Montreat Town Council: New board members, staff turnover, bear hunting

Ezra Maille
Black Mountain News
Mayor Pro Tem Tom Widmer presided over the meeting on Jan. 13 as Mayor Tim Helms was unable to attend.

The Montreat Board of Commissioners hosted the first Town Council meeting of the year on Jan. 13 at Montreat Town Hall.

The meeting was lead by Mayor Pro Tem Tom Widmer because Mayor Tim Helms was unable to attend. It included the resignation of Town Administrator Alex Carmichael, a lengthy discussion on concerns of bear hunting and the appointment of new members to various town boards. 

"It was a hard decision for me to make because I love this community, and Montreat has been very supportive of me," Carmichael said in announcing his resignation. "It was a decision we didn't take lightly, but I really do think it's the best decision for my family." 

Carmichael accepted the position of town manager with the town of Laurel Park in Henderson County. He said his last day with Montreat will be Feb. 20. 

Widmer thanked Carmichael for his service on behalf of the town and his fellow commissioners. 

“We are thankful for Alex’s leadership over the past five years," Helms said in a statement from the town. "Alex did a lot of good for Montreat and Montreat did a lot for Alex. We wish him and his family the best in his new venture.”

Montreat town administrator Alex Carmichael announced his resignation at the Jan. 13 meeting, thanking the town for all its support.

Safety concerns over bear hunting were discussed at the meeting, primarily focused on the use of dogs while hunting. Multiple residents voiced concerns regarding dogs running bears through backyards and on private property, bringing the animals in close proximity to residents. 

"Montreat is a sort of bear haven," said Commissioner Kent Otto. 

The board discussed multiple options for alleviating concerns and altering hunting practices in town, including working with bear hunters and the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission as well as addressing the town ordinance directly to explore possible changes. 

The Board of Commissioners also completed 18 appointments to five different boards and commissions at the Jan. 13 meeting.

Metropolitan Sewage District Board

  • Matt Ashley was appointed for two year a term to expire Jan. 31, 2024.

Board of Adjustment

  • Robert Sulaski was appointed as a regular member to a three year term to expire Jan. 31, 2025.
  • Martha Chastain was appointed as a regular member to a three year term to expire Jan. 31, 2025.
  • Arrington Cox was appointed as a regular member to a three year term to expire Jan. 31, 2025.
  • Beth Barker was appointed as an ETJ member to a three year term to expire Jan. 31, 2025.
  • Danny Sharp was appointed as an alternate 1 member to a three year term to expire Jan. 31, 2025.
  • David Neel was appointed as an alternate 2 member to a three year term to expire Jan. 31, 2025.

Planning & Zoning Commission

  • John Hinkle was appointed as a regular member to a three year term to expire Jan. 31, 2025.
  • Bill Scheu was appointed as a regular member to a three year term to expire Jan. 31, 2025.
  • Dan Dean was appointed as a regular member to a three year term to expire Jan. 31, 2025.
  • Julie Schell was appointed as a regular member to a two year term to expire Jan. 31, 2024. Schell will replace Mason Blake, recently elected to the Board of Commissioners. 
  • Wade Burns was appointed as a regular member to a three year term to expire Jan. 31, 2025.
  • Liz Johnson was appointed as a regular member to a three year term to expire Jan. 31, 2025.
  • Sally Stansill was appointed as an alternate 1 member to a three year term to expire Jan. 31, 2025.

Tree Board

  • Brad Hestir was appointed as a regular member to a three year term to expire Jan. 31, 2025.
  • Maggie Ray was appointed as a regular member to a three year term to expire Jan. 31, 2025.
  • Philip Arnold was appointed as a regular member to a three year term to expire Jan. 31, 2025.

Open Spaces Conservation Committee

  • Mari Gramling was appointed as a regular member to a three year term to expire Jan. 31, 2025.

The Montreat Board of Commissioners will hold its next meeting on Feb. 10 at the Town Hall.