Vote for Your 2023 Furrst Responder Hero

These Top 13 Will Be on our 2023 Furrst Responder Calendar!

Thank you for everyone's nominations!  With your help, we have raised over $2019 through voting.  Watch for our Calendars around Haywood County in the next few weeks!


Shanna Bellows

Maggie Valley Police Department
K-9 Officer Shanna Bellow was recently recognized by the Maggie Valley Police Department, Town of Maggie Valley and State Representatives Mark Pless, Kevin Corbin and Mike Clampitt for her life saving efforts while off-duty. Officer Bellows was traveling on Interstate 40 while off duty and witnessed an accident of terrible magnitude and stopped to render aid to all involved. Her efforts saved a husband and wife involved in the accident. Due to her efforts, both individuals survived. Please see The Mountaineer article explaining the event in detail.



Jeff Haynes

Haywood County Sheriff's Office and Waynesville Police Department
I am nominating Jeff Haynes as a Furrst Responder Hero, due to Jeff's dedication to his community. A native of Haywood County, Jeff has been serving in law enforcement for over 30 years. He has protected his hometown county as part of the Waynesville Police Department, Haywood County Sheriff's Department, and HCC's BLET program. Jeff is also a graduate of the FBI National Academy. Jeff is truly one of our hometown heroes, and would be a great addition to the Furrst Responder Hero Calendar.



Shaun Messer

Waynesville Police Department
Sergeant Messer is such an advocate for victims...this is including all people and all animals! Sergeant Messer has recently been on a several animal abuse/neglect cases and he has so much passion. He also loves his wife, kids and his own doggie!

Sergeant Messer was instrumental in getting the needed assistance to a dog in severe distress from heat exposure and charging the people involve. He was also the officer that was initially involved in a case of a stolen beloved cat from Frog Level Brewing....and THANK the Lord, both case have had a positive outcome!  Sergeant Messer goes above and beyond for our four legged victims!

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Chris Chandler

Waynesville Police Department and Saunook Fire Department

Chris is always willing to go above an beyond.

Chris has been a Waynesville Police Officer for over 27 years and currently serves as the Senior Lieutenant of the Support Services Division with a variety of responsibilities including the Communications Team, Records Management Team, Hostage Negotiations Team, Drone Team and School Resource Officers.  He also assists in managing the day to day operations of the Police Department working with the budget, vendors, and the Civilian Police Volunteers.

An incident Chris was involved with proves that officers can go from the relative safety of their patrol cars to a potentially deadly encounter in a split second.  It just so happens, Chris had his turn on this day back in January.  He saw a young lady walking in the middle of the road and thought she must be in some type of distress so he stopped to check on her.  When he did, things escalated rather quickly and she brandished a knife.  Thankfully with his years of experience and the grace of God, everyone survived this potentially deadly force encounter with relatively minor injuries. Chris was deeply cut on the hand while struggling to disarm her.

Not only is Chris a stellar officer, he's also a fireman. Chris joined the Saunook Volunteer Fire Department in the summer of 1991, where he remains to this day.  He currently serves as the Chief with no plans to retire any time soon.

In the early 2000’s Chris was participating in a training fire of an old hotel in Maggie Valley and his team was assigned to make an initial attack on an active fire.  Upon making entry into the very fire involved hotel room, he realized his turnout gear was failing.  He had been assigned as the lead on the primary attack line and had no choice but to finish what he started and fight the fire.  As a result of putting water on the fire, he received 3rd degree burns across his shoulders and back from the steam created and is still scarred from these burns.  As a result, he was sidelined from interior fire fighting for approximately 9 months until his burns had time to heal.

As a result of both his actual job as a police officer and his volunteer work as a firefighter, he has been involved in many incidents that resulted in the loss of life.  He carries these memories with him and thinks of them often, especially when he drives by a particular location on the highway or a residence where a tragedy occurred.

Chris would never consider himself a hero.  He is very humble and wants no credit whatsoever. He would never hesitate to fight a fire at midnight or to walk into an armed confrontation.   A hero is someone who regardless of what the potential outcome could be, still shows up and gives everything they have to give without expecting to be recognized for anything they personally did.

And these are just a few reasons why Chris Chandler is a hero.


Jason Singleton

Waynesville Police Department

Officer Singleton inspired the Smoky Mountain Dog Bakery staff while on his journey to becoming a police officer. Officer Singleton was a full time delivery driver while also attending night school and completing specialized training courses for the police department. Though many days he was surly exhausted from juggling the heavy work load he always kept a smile on his face. When asked why he wanted to become a Police officer he told staff he, "Wanted to make a difference in his community by making Haywood County a safer place." We would like to THANK Officer Jason for his dedication and love for the Haywood County Community. We know he will do great things!


Chris Mehaffey Nomination

Chris Mehaffey

Waynesville Fire Department
Chris is the Assistant Chief and goes above and beyond to be a welcoming and supportive member of the community. He’s a wonderful family man that sets a great example to all those around him.



Bryan Reeves

Waynesville Police Department

Bryan is a long standing, influential community member and one of Haywood county’s School Resource Officers. He is a hero everyday by keeping our children happy and safe. He can be seen at almost every school related sporting event & volunteers in many outside fundraisers, including MADD, Special Olympics and Donate Life NC. Bryan is the epitome of what a neighbor should be and our community is blessed to have him.


Lyla Bible

Haywood County Animal Services

Lyla Bible goes above and beyond her duties as an animal control officer. She works tirelessly to reunite pets with owners, helps in the shelter with medical duties, does what is necessary to create enrichment and a loving environment to animals waiting for their furever homes.


Dee Parton

Waynesville Police Department

Sgt. Dee Parton is an incredible example of selfless dedication to her community. Sgt. Parton has served the Haywood County community for over 22 years after becoming the FIRST female Trooper with the NC Highway Patrol. When she is not protecting and serving Sgt. Parton volunteers her time with Haywood County Animal Services or Sarge's enriching the lives of the dogs in need with extra love and care. You will always see this amazing individual with a smile on their face and usually a dog leash in their hand! Thank you for making a difference, we are lucky to have you in our community.



Logan Wood

Maggie Valley Police Department
 K9 Officer Logan Wood was working in his regular night shift and was dispatched to a home in reference to an individual that was on his roof working. The individual proceeded to slip off the roof and was unable to pull himself back up to safety. Officer Wood arrived as the individual was losing strength and Officer Wood was able to climb on the roof and pull the gentleman back to safety. Officer Wood was recognized for his efforts at a Town of Maggie Valley Town Meeting and was awarded the department Life Saving Award.



Heath Pressley

Waynesville Police Department

Heath has worked for the PD for around 10 years. He never hesitates to answer the call! He loves his job and his town. He works with his dog, Luke, to keep our street’s safe.


Rory Lee Phipps

Haywood County EMS & Waynesville Fire Department Volunteer

Rory is a lifelong vegetarian and animal and human rights defender. He is the pet daddy of two cats, Rigby [a feral], Ecto [a tuxedo], both rescues and Penni, a little Terrier/Dachshund mix girl that found her way to his porch one Sunday morning. She had been passed around for three years before she finally found her forever home. Rory and his BFF Jessica Davis [also a Haywood Co. Emergency first responder in Canton and mama to two shepherd rescues] are presently fostering Thor, a seven month old twice rejected beautiful shepherd. Both are passionate in their calling to continue to help humans and animals in time of distress and vulnerability.


Bob Messer

Waynesville Fire Department

Retired Fire Chief Bob Messer has dedicated 38 years of his life to his local community and to Haywood County. After retiring as Fire Chief in 2021, he still volunteers part time Firefighter at Waynesville Fire Department. Bob has worked with Haywood County schools for 20 years in Maintenance also in the last 2 years keeping children of Haywood County safe as the part time Safety Coordinator. In his free time, he attends State Fire Chief Conferences to help legislation to benefit his follow firefighters.



Chance Best

Maggie Valley Fire & Rescue

Chance is a full-time firefighter with Maggie Valley Fire & Rescue, Inc. Chance is 22 years old and is excelling as a Professional Firefighter. Chance is a great mentor to our younger firefighters. Chance is a great role model for our young adults and is devoted to his profession.

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