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Commissioners name human services building for Charlie Messer

Charlie Messer Charlie Messer

The Henderson County Board of Commissioners voted Wednesday to name the Human Services building for Charlie Messer, the longtime county commissioner who died in July.

Board members praised Messer for his service to the county and the state after County Manager Steve Wyatt read a resolution the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners adopted in August honoring Messer, who was an active member of the association for many years.

Messer served on the board for five terms and was chair in 2013 and 2014 and vice chair from 2005 to 2009 and in 2015-16. He was a supporter of the renovation of the Historic Courthouse, adopting a comprehensive land-use plan, construction of the Mills River, Hillandale and Edneyville elementary schools, the human services building, the sheriff's office. He served on the state Association of County Commissioners, including two terms as a regional director covering Henderson, Buncombe, Madison and Transylvania counties.

"Commissioner Messer's talents were felt not only here in the county and the things he worked on in the county but across the state," Chairman Grady Hawkins said, recalling Messer's "affable nature."

"I really miss Charlie," Hawkins said. "We certainly miss him on this board as well as the state and the county."

Michael Edney served with Messer for 10 years on the board and knew him many years before that.

"He put family above everything — Sheila, the girls, grandbabies," he said. Although Messer's name is often synonymous with parks and recreation, "he was much more complicated than that. He was a people person. He could talk to the poorest, most run down person in the world or he could talk to a millionaire and he would talk to him same way. Henderson County is so much better for his being here and his being involved."

Rebecca McCall said she first met Messer when she was considering running for a seat on the Board of Commissioners.

"I went to the store and it was interesting to watch him run his store and interact with everybody that came in," she said. "He knew everybody that came in and what their issues were and their families. He was just a special person. He encouraged me to do what I felt was best in my heart."

When she attended a meeting of the Association of County Commissioners, "he showed me the ropes," she said. "He introduced me to people and without him being there I would have been a lost puppy. Charlie was my go to. Charlie was the one I would call if I had question because he remembered everything."

Commissioner Daniel Andreotta, who was appointed to replace Messer, said he felt unworthy to sit in the seat Messer occupied for 20 years.

"He was so genuine and he never changed and he wouldn't want that," he said. "I remember pastor Marcus talking (at Messer's funeral) about Charlie's angels and here they sit today for sure. It's just an honor to be in his shadow for sure."

Hawkins said the county would order a sign for the Charlie D. Messer Human Services Building and hold a formal dedication later.