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Haywood highway dedicated to fireman

The N.C. Board of Transportation unanimously approved a resolution Thursday to dedicate a section of U.S. 276 in Haywood County in honor of Claud “Paw” Messer. 

NCDOT and local officials will hold a ceremony later this year at an appropriate date to dedicate the stretch of U.S. 276 from Interstate 40 to U.S. 19 in honor of the man who created the Jonathan Creek Volunteer Fire Department and dedicated his life to public service. 

The NCDOT resolution states in part, “Messer’s leadership allowed the Jonathan Creek Volunteer Fire Department to build a state-of-the-art facility and purchase necessary equipment without incurring debt,” and “Messer had a distinguished 30-year career as a Haywood County Volunteer Firefighter and was looked upon by his peers with respect and admiration.”

Messer’s nomination packet includes necessary documents from the Haywood County Board of Commissioners, plus letters of support from the Waynesville Fire Department, three from Maggie Valley Fire and Rescue, Haywood County Deputy Fire Marshall Daryl Henderson, and Crabtree Iron Duff Volunteer Scott Sutton.

Messer, who spent his professional career of 30 years with McElroy Oil and 11 years with Southern Concrete, helped create the Jonathan Creek Volunteer Fire Department in 1986 and served as chairman of the department’s board of directors and captain of the department until his death. 

Also known for his service to the community, Messer often provided wood and oil for those in need of heat through winter storms and months. He died in 2019 at the age of 74 when responding to a fire call.

“I think it would be an honor to the state of North Carolina and to Haywood County to have a portion of U.S. 276 right down through Jonathan Creek named after such a selfless individual like Claud Messer,” wrote Henderson. “This was the place where he gave so much of himself, even his life, to other people and never asked anything in return.”

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