Apparently we’ve been without rain for too long because people have forgotten to slow down when it does. A pair of wrecks on I-26 were the result of poor conditions, according to Woodfin Police. The wrecks occurred on I-26 east-bound toward Asheville near the Elk Mountain Road exit, which occurred on Friday (September 25) just after 10 pm. The first wreck involved Samuel Gerrod Haun, 34, of Johnson City, Tennessee, and Tara D’Alene Spurgeon, 42, of Waxhaw, NC. According to a report filed by Woodfin Officer Chris Stockton, vehicle one, driven by Haun, “began to brake to slow behind vehicle number two [Spurgeon]. He stated that he then realized that they were slowing much faster than he was. He stated that he then pressed the brake harder and steered to the left to avoid colliding with vehicle number two. He stated that his brakes locked up and he began to slide.” Haun’s vehicle turned perpendicular and “the front right corner struck the guardrail in the median. [Haun] continued to slide perpendicular to the lanes of travel and the back right corner of [Haun’s vehicle] struck the back left corner of [Spurgeon’s vehicle].” Read more...
Stockton’s report indicates that after losing control, Haun’s vehicle struck Spurgeon’s at an estimated speed of 45 miles an hour and caused $500 in damages to his vehicle, while suffering $4,000 to his own and rendered it “un-driveable.” Seconds later, Christopher George Daniel Moore, 23, of Mars Hill, was traveling behind Haun and Spurgeon. Stockton, writing this report as well, writes in his report that Moore “stated that as he approached the Exit 23 off-ramp, he could faintly see a yellow light and tried to figure out what it was. “He stated that as he was finally able to see that it was a vehicle sitting across the left hand travel lane,” which was apparently Haun’s disabled vehicle, Moore swerved to the right, losing control of the vehicle. “[Moore’s vehicle’s] front end collided with the embankment to the right of the roadway and then overturned causing extensive damage to the windshield and top of the vehicle.” Stockton lists the estimated damage at $5,000. Stockton writes in his report that the angle in which Haun’s vehicle was turned perpendicular. “It’s headlights were facing the guardrail and the taillights were facing the right side of the highway and giving little to no warning to oncoming traffic. Given the fact that it was dark, it is highly probable that the driver of vehicle number one had no way of seeing that vehicle in time to be able to safely maneuver around.” He continues, “Based on my training and experience, it is my opinion that the cumulative effects of these circumstances, along with the wet surface, create conditions that can contribute to the difficulty the driver of vehicle number one experienced as he tried to maintain control of his vehicle.” Stockton writes in his report of the Haun/Spurgeon wreck that at the time of the wreck, “The left hand of the roadway was recently paved while the right hand lane is not. The new pavement creates about a three inch difference in elevation for the right hand lane to the left. The surface of the roadway was wet at the time of collision and the left hand lane would be more slick than the right hand lane.” Despite the damage and violence of the wrecks, luckily, no injuries were reported in either wreck and no citations were issued.
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The Weaverville Town Council met for their monthly meeting where they discussed the purchase of slope mowers for $58,000, among other items, Monday (September 22). The council voted to appropriate $58,000 for the purchase of two slope mowers. New town manager Selena Coffey explained that the action came as a result of a recent visit by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA). “It was a requested visit, not a compliance visit,” she explained. “We were not given any deficiencies. However, this will come back as a deficiency if we do not do something about it.” Public Works Director Tony Laughter added more background about the OHSA visit. “For over nine years now we have purchased ‘z-turn’ and walk behind [mowers]. We have used those safely and without incident,” he said. However, citing several recent fatal accidents throughout the state, Laughter noted that the zero-turn or ‘z-turn’ mowers are being closely scrutinized for the safety while mowing slopes. Listing off areas that cannot be mowed with the current equipment that the town owns, Laughter noted that approximately 2/3 of town-owned property, such as Lake Louise Park, The Main Street Nature Park, public works facility and the water department facilities, cannot be mowed with the equipment they have. “To give you an idea, I believe it was three years ago, I was at public works. We had a voluntary inspection and the OSHA representatives looked at our equipment and said ‘boy, you really have nice equipment. Nothing was said about the zturns,” Laughter explained. “Some times that depends on the pet-peeve of the OSHA inspector, and this particular inspector was an investigator at one of the deaths. So that’s one of the reasons why it’s high on their priority list.” Read more...
Addressing Councilman Doug Jackson, who had prompted his explanation, Laughter said, “To be honest, Doug, we should have caught it nine years ago and I should have caught it four years ago when I asked for another one. But we use them in practice. That’s probably going to be changing dramatically over the next two years.” He also warned, “We need two mowers this year and I’ll be requesting a third one next year. These mowers will be slower than a z-turn mower. I’m not going to ask for additional personnel. We are going to do the best we can with what we have to try to keep Weaverville looking as good as we do right now.” The council also re-appropriated $11,664 from the previous year’s budget. Coffey explained, “It’s my understanding that town council has done this as practice for the past few years. I’ve been a part of other units of government where we did the same exact thing. It was essentially we’re re-appropriating funds from the prior year’s budget.” The budget amendment was approved by unanimous decision. Weaverville Fire Chief Terry Malone explained a change that is being made by Buncombe County to clean up the fire districts and retitle them as fire service districts. Malone explained that the change would see 35 special tax districts consolidated into 19 fire service districts. Malone confirmed that the change is in name only. There is no functional change to the area that they serve nor will their be any changes in service, both inside and outside the town. Council Walt Currie voiced concern regarding the language used concerning liability, asking for Coffey and Town Attorney Rebecca Reinhardt to look into the matter further. During the public comment period, resident Sam Tucker asked the council and public works to keep the sidewalks and streets clear of bushes and tree limbs. He also asked that the streets be widened. Resident and planning and zoning board chair Doug Theroux requested that when council approves a development application be reviewed by Planning and Zoning, that information about that application be sent immediately to the P and Z board members. After a short discussion with Councilman Doug Dearth, the idea was agreed on to be discussed further. Janet Foor, representing the Weaverville Garden Club, asked that her organization be allowed to meet at town hall. She cited that efforts by the club to purchase benches and sculptures as well as their gardening skills around town, indicates that the organization gives back to the town and should be exempt from the recent council ruling to no longer allow the renting of spaces of town facilities, such as town hall. The council voted to approve a list of approved plants to be used for landscaping for any new developments. The resolution does not affect individual property owners. Another council action was reappointing Theroux by unanimous decision to the Planning and Zoning Board. Coffey recognized several of the town employees, including new town hall front desk employee Derek Huninghake, as well as several Weaverville firefighters for completing the NC Department of Labor Apprenticeship program. Those employees were Alex Fisher, Chance Folse, Joshua Youngblood, Justin Morgan and Justin Norton. Folse was also recognized for receiving the Asheville Optimist Club for Community Service Award. The council voted to approve a proclamation honoring Weaverville Branch Librarian Jill Tottman for her 30 years of service to the town and the library system. Finally, Weaverville Mayor Dottie Sherrill commended the town’s Patriotic Committee for the 9/11 Memorial event held earlier this month. She also recognized former Interim Town Manager Mike Morgan for his service to the town while they searched to fill the position now held by Coffey. The council then went into closed session before adjourning the meeting for the night.
To commemorate the tragic events of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York 14 years ago and to honor all first responders and military, the Town of Weaverville hosted its Patriots Day event. The event saw the Reuter Center singers and the Asheville Fire Department Pipe and Drum band performing, with the colors presented by Boy Scouts from Weaverville’s Troop 15. Read more...
The event’s keynote speaker was Colonel Richard Johnson, USAF (Ret). Col. Johnson was an air force chaplain assigned to Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana at the time of the 9/11 attacks. He recounted his experience that day, 14 years ago, when after the attacks President George W. Bush, on board Air Force One, landed unexpectedly at his base. Johnson stated to the crowd that he had three lessons from that day. “First of all, never take freedoms, privileges, and blessings we have in this country for granted. Freedom is not free. Those freedoms have been pursued, purchased and acquired and continue to exist only through hard work, struggle and constant vigilance. Patriots, war veterans of all wars, and some citizens pay the ultimate price.” Second, he said, “Cherish the relationships, friendships, connections that we have in our daily lives. Nearly 3,000 died on that first 9/11. Countless others died later as a result of injuries and/or as a result of working in those environments. Our entire world would be better if we told those we love that we cared for them more often.” Finally, “We are vulnerable. Vulnerability demands watchfulness. Like it or not, terrorism is now a fact of life. As a nation, we were aware of terrorist activities in foreign lands but we did not expect them at home. Unfortunately, terrorism can occur at home.” He continued, “If we hide and alter our lives greatly because of fear generated from these attacks, we will be helping the terrorists reach their goals. Life is short. We should try to lead normal lives as much as possible, without fear. There is a need, however, for higher levels of personal security and awareness.” Following Col. Johnson’s statements, a rifle salute was rendered by members of the VFW Post 5483. Col. Johnson was joined by Weaverville Mayor Dottie Sherrill, former mayor Al Root and Little Mount Zion Baptist Church pastor Dr. Louis Grant.
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