By Jesse Wood
Nov. 14, 2012. Stuart Scott was thrown into the fire, so to speak, when he recently accepted his new position.
Scott’s first day on the job as the new N.C. Forest Service Ranger for Watauga County was Oct. 29, and within two weeks, he was battling a huge 150-acre brushfire in the southeast corner of Watauga County in an area called Sampson.
Because more than eight local fire departments collaborated in distinguishing the wildfire and remnant embers that lasted for three days, Scott met most of the local fire chiefs earlier than planned.
Speaking after an introduction to the Watauga County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday, Scott said, “It’s not a great thing, but I did have an opportunity to meet these folks out in Sampson.”
Hunter Birckhead, a N.C. Forest Service Forester in District 2, interviewed Scott for the position and during the introduction of Scott to the board of commissioners, Birckhead said, “I’ve been interviewing and hiring folks for 27 years, and he is probably the most capable and finest young man I’ve ever interviewed for the fire service.”
Scott, 34, graduated from Colorado State University with a bachelor’s degree in forestry with a concentration in fire science. He also has completed the N.C. Fire Service Learning program and spent six months as a smoke chaser in Pasquotank County.
Scott, who is avid outdoorsman, is coming from Chowan County, where he was the county’s ranger for the past two years. Stuart Scott was born in Pennsylvania, although he has family that resides in the area. His aunt currently lives in the High Country, and his grandparents lived in Blowing Rock while he was growing up.
Birckhead read all of this information and more of his pedigree to the commissioners during the introduction of Scott. When Birckhead was done, Commissioner David Blust started clapping and joked, “I feel like we need to give him a standing ovation.”
Scott said he “couldn’t be happier” to be the new Watauga County Ranger on Tuesday.
“I’ll do anything to help, emergency, fire and [all the other things that full under] the wide umbrella of service to provide aid,” Scott said. “And I would love to fulfill all of those needs the county has.”
On Wednesday afternoon, Scott said, “the opportunity of the mountains and the opportunity to continue to do great work” brought him to Watauga.
Scott is taking the place of Mark Hildebran, who was hired in May 2011 and recently left work down the mountain.
“It seems like we did this not too long ago,” Birckhead told the commissioners on Tuesday, adding that hopefully he won’t be back in his lifetime to introduce a new commissioner.