Carter County Mayor's heroes have long tradition of helping others

John Thompson • Updated Jan 30, 2018 at 6:40 PM

ROAN MOUNTAIN — Carter County Mayor Leon Humphrey recently began a monthly program of honoring residents who have honorably served their community before each Carter County Commission meeting.

In January, the mayor recognized Darrell and Heather Turbyfill.

Humphrey said one example of their dedication to helping others took place in October 2015, when South Carolina was suffering severe flooding after a strong storm. He said “numerous rivers burst their banks, washing away roads, bridges, vehicles and homes. Hundreds of people required rescue.”

These news reports inspired the Turbyfills to help their neighbors in South Carolina. Humphrey said they decided to personally deliver a pallet of water to South Carolina. They told their pastor of their plan and word quickly spread throughout the community. Several Roan Mountain residents made monetary contributions to the effort.

When the Turbyfills started out with truck and trailer to purchase three pallets of water, it did not appear luck was on their side. The brakes on their pickup truck locked up in front of T & E Wrecker Service. But T & E made the repairs at no charge and when they reached Sam’s Club, they were met by local media. That led to more local donations of bleach, cleaning supplies and other needs for flood victims.

By the time it was over, the Turbyfills had made four trips to South Carolina. They also sent a tractor-trailer truck with 34 pallets of water.

There might have been even more, but South Carolina announced it no longer needed aid.

The Turbyfills gathered up the supplies they had left and donated all the remaining contributions to Angie Odom of TLC Community Center.

Working with a local bakery, each week they also delivered fresh bread to help Odom’s organization assist families who were in need of nourishing food.

Darrell Turbyfill attended Cloudland High School. Heather Turbyfill is from across the state line; she attended Avery County High School. They were married in 1994 and opened Highlander BBQ in 2008. The restaurant now serves as a community meeting place, even when it is not open for business.

For instance, the Highlander is the home of a Bible study group for women, who meet in the restaurant every Saturday at 7 a.m. The Backcountry Horsemen meet at the Highlander every month. These groups are given the keys to the restaurant and told to help themselves to coffee and soft drinks at no charge. The Turbyfills also regularly host appreciation dinners at their restaurant for first responders.

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