Get Breaking News

Enter your email address to sign up.

Receive special offers from

Junior Sluder (right) receives an award for outstanding dedication, recognizing his 50 years
of service in Avery County’s fire service, from David Charles Vance (left) and president of
Avery County Firefighters’ Association, Paul Buchanan (center).
Photos by Matthew Hundley

Originally published: 2012-11-08 11:20:49
Last modified: 2012-11-08 11:20:49

Avery Country Firefighters Association awards

Matthew Hundley / (

Avery County Firefighters Association held it annual awards ceremony on Thursday, Nov. 1, at Linville Fire Department. 

After concluding usual meeting business, association president Paul Buchanan took a moment to recognize those firefighters who had committed more than 20 and 30 years to the fire service. Buchanan concluded by presenting awards for outstanding dedication to some of Avery County’s longest serving members, beginning with the longest serving member and one of the original founders of the association, Junior Sluder, who reached a milestone for 50 years of service this year. Other members recognized for their years of service included Jack Wiseman, Tony Hunter and David Charles Vance, who has served as the association’s treasurer throughout its entire existence. 

The award for Firefighter of the Year went to one of Newland Fire Department’s youngest members, Ridge Phillips. 

Johnny Mathes, of Frank Fire Department, received two recognitions during the meeting recognizing his bravery in rescuing his own neighbors from their burning home. The first recognition came from David Hughes, second vice president of Western North Carolina Association of Firefighters, which represents all fire districts west of Charlotte. Hughes presented Mathes with the Firefighter of the Quarter award for WNCAF, an honor that recognizes Mathes’ courage and puts him in the running for the WNCAF Firefighter of the Year award. 

To recognize Mathes on the local level, Avery County Firefighters’ Association also presented him with an award for Dedication Above the Call of Duty.

“Johnny received the officer of the quarter for the Western N.C. Association of Firefighters,” said Hughes. “It is pretty prestigious if you at least get nominated, then to get accepted and have it presented to you is something else.”

Additional Images