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Land of Sky honors Volk, Brissie and Edwards for leadership

Hendersonville Mayor Barbara Volk, Henderson County Emergency Management Director Jimmy Brissie and U.S. Rep.-elect Chuck Edwards were honored for their service to the region on Nov. 30 during the annual awards of the Land of Sky Regional Council.

Named for four-time council chair and longtime Brevard mayor who himself received a national award for regional leadership in 1977, the Charles H. Campbell Regional Leadership Award was dedicated in 1983 to annually honor an outstanding contributor to the betterment of Western North Carolina and the Land of Sky Region. This year the award went to Mayor Volk, a past chair of council's Board of Delegates, for her dedication and leadership on behalf of the Land of Sky Regional Council and Western North Carolina.

This year, the council presented the Extraordinary Public Service Award to four outstanding emergency management directors in the region as well as two county commissioners. Besides Brissie, emergency management directors honored were Caleb Dispenza of Madison County, Van Taylor Jones of Buncombe County and Kevin Shook of Transylvania County. "Their unwavering dedication to our citizens has helped our region respond to the many challenges presented by the Covid-19 pandemic," the council said. Also honored were Buncombe County Commissioner Al Whitesides and Madison County Commissioner and interim County Manager Norris Gentry. Whitesides led desegregation efforts in Asheville as part of Asheville Student Commission on Racial Equality (ASCORE), served as a banker, chaired of the Asheville City School Board and the UNC Asheville Board of Trustees and made history as the first African-American to serve as a commissioner in Buncombe County. Gentry served Madison County for most of his life as an educator, workforce development leader and most recently as a county commissioner and interim county manager.

State Sen. and Congressman-elect Chuck Edwards, state Reps. John Ager, Susan Fisher and Brian Turner received the Extraordinary Legislative Service Award in appreciation for their devotion, commitment and exemplary service as members of the North Carolina General Assembly.

The Robert G. Parrish, Sr. Intergovernmental Relations Award, given in honor of the late Council Chairman and first mayor of Fletcher, was presented to former Land of Sky Regional Council Board of Delegates member George Morosani for his contributions to the Land of Sky Region, and the State of North Carolina.

Presented at the council’s discretion to a local government professional who has shown great leadership in improving governance and service delivery, especially in the areas ofregional cooperation and collaboration, the Robert E. Shepherd Excellence in Local Government Excellence Award was presented to Town of Black Mountain Manager Josh Harrold, for his dedication and service to greatly enhance the quality of life for the citizens of Black Mountain and the region.