By Mayor Carol Pritchett
2022 began with a gorgeous snowfall in mid-January. Though the snow created a picturesque view scape, it also left our streets covered in ice and left us with hazardous roadways! Over nine inches of snow fell during the weekend of 1/14 through 1/17 and thankfully, very few people lost power. I want to thank our staff in Public Works, the Fire/Emergency Management Department, the Police Department, and Communications for working around the clock to ensure the safety of our citizens.
When storm emergencies such as this are on the horizon and Fire Chief/Emergency Management Coordinator, Dustin Waycaster and I lead a planning meeting with the Town Manager, Communications, Public Works, and Police to ensure everyone is prepared for the situation. We began by ensuring citizens were aware of the upcoming storm event and providing guidance for winter weather safety. This communication goes out on our Everbridge Emergency Alert System and we post regular updates on the Town website (www.townoflakelure.com) and on the Town’s Facebook Page (www.facebook.com/townoflakelure). Some of our social media posts reached as many as 29,000 individuals during the storm.
Over 1,300 citizens are registered for Everbridge alerts but if you are not already registered to receive these calls/emails/or texts, I encourage you to register at the bottom of the Town website’s homepage. In addition to inline communications, we ensured that we had someone available to answer any calls to Town Hall around the clock. Over 100 calls were received by Police Administrative Assistant Kat Canant. She personally answered calls throughout the weekend of the storm with inquiries ranging from emergency issues, people stuck in ditches in their cars, vehicles stranded in the snow, and reports of roads that needed plowing.
Prior to the storm event, our Town staff prepared by adding chains and stocking emergency response vehicles. The Fire Department/Emergency Management Department preplanned how best to transport patients in the event that people needed to be extricated during the storm with impassible roads. They also made preparation in the event a shelter was needed if there was a power outage.
The Fire Department made 14 calls during the storm including removing trees from roadways or providing whatever assistance was needed. One of the significant contributions they made during the storm was to clear and assist a family with getting access to the main roads so a family member could be transported for surgery the next morning. The surgery ended up being cancelled due to the weather, but the roadway was cleared and ready in the event that the surgery took place. Fire crews even assisted some visitors who were stranded and had no food in their rental. Fire fighters took them to Ingles when the roadway was impassible, so they would have supplies during the storm. Our Fire/Emergency Management Crew that worked during the storm included Fire Chief Dustin Waycaster, Assistant Chief Chris Melton, Lieutenant Trey Lewis. Firefighters Josh Hendrix, Shane Snoddy, Scout McCormick, Max DeLauter and several Volunteer Firefighters.
In regards to Ingles, I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the tremendous service that Bob Cassano and his staff provide to our community. We do not say thank you as often as we should and we are all very grateful to have this excellent pharmacy and grocery resource available to us, especially during a winter storm event.
In order to ensure the roadways were clear, our Public works staff utilized 5 snow plows and 2 spreaders throughout the storm event. They worked with the Fire Department on multiple requests for assistance from residents in Lake Lure and worked tirelessly to plow Town roads and streets throughout the event. The staff that worked throughout the storm were Public Services Director Dean Lindsey, Public Works staff Chuck Ammacher, Scott Biddy, Gunar Harris, Andie Ogle, along with Chase Harris from the Dam and Hydro-electric Plant.
Furthermore, our Police Department assisted a vehicle that got stuck on highway 9 near Ingles. Officers worked throughout the event to stay prepared and ready to respond in any manner necessary. The officers that worked throughout the event were Sgt. Glen Gittens, Sgt. Carl Umphlett, Corporal Aaron Collins, Patrol Officers Chris Shuford, Tyler Dills, and Kortney Burrell.
All of our departments have reviewed their actions taken during the storm and we are reviewing our procedures to constantly improve processes for future snow events. I am proud of our Town staff for planning ahead and working together to ensure we had the best outcome possible during the storm. Each department maintained close contact with each other and coordinated the emergency response throughout the storm event. I witnessed seamless teamwork with the departments as everyone worked in an organized fashion to ensure the safety of our citizens and visitors. I would be remiss if I did not also share my gratitude to the citizens who were prudent and adhered to the advanced warning of the snow and ice. We appreciated so many people staying home and off the roadways during the storm. Through this unity, we all had a positive outcome with snow storm Izzy!
In addition to managing the storm event, we have been working strategically to accomplish several projects during the Lake drawdown this year. We were pleased to begin refilling the Lake on 2/1. We are holding the Lake at 6 feet below full-pond for several weeks as we complete projects which can only be undertaken at this level. We expect to be back at full-pond well before the spring season. The following is a list of work that has been completed during the drawdown:
1) Development of a new seawall for the Lake Lure Gazebo: Completed and overseen by our Parks, Recreation and Lake Director Dean Givens and Parks, Recreation and Trails Coordinator Dana Bradley.
2) New Boat Ramp in Pool Creek Picnic Park, across from the ABC Store for non-motorized vessels: Complete and overseen by our Parks, Recreation and Lake Director Dean Givens and Parks, Recreation and Trails Coordinator Dana Bradley.
3) Rehabilitating manholes to reduce lake water infiltration: 38 manholes have been rehabilitated as of 1/29. An additional 12 manholes will be rehabilitated once the Lake is up by 6 feet. This project is being overseeing by Public Services Director Dean Lindsey.
4) Conducting inspections of lake structures while they are accessible from dry ground (including docks, piers, boathouses, floating platforms and seawalls): Completed for Phase 1. This project is being overseeing by Community Development Director Mike Williams.
5) Identifying lake structures requiring modifications necessary for the Phase I Sewer System project *: In progress. This project is being overseen by Community Development Director Mike Williams.
6) Installing two manholes in Morse Park to enable access and inspection of the existing system: In progress. This project is being overseen by Public Services Director Dean Lindsey.
7) Completing a hydroelectric plant penstock warranty inspection: Completed successfully. This project was overseen by
Town Engineer Kurt Wright with Public Services Director Dean Lindsey.
Additionally, our work continues on the replacement of the dam. We are in the process of completing a conceptual design and this project is moving forward. We are also seeing progress with the sewer system replacement as well as the new cell tower. We expect to have “4-5 bars of service” available from the other side of Chimney Rock and up the main channel of the Lake through the Paradise Point/Dam area sometime in mid to late 2022.
Thank you for your continued support of the important work that is taking place to preserve Lake Lure for future generations.