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Star shining brightly for Stan

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By The Staff

By CHERYL DUNCAN

cduncan@roanecounty.com

Rockwood’s “star on the mountain” is shining brightly over the city in hopes of a miracle.

Rockwood Electric Utility turned on the gigantic lighted star atop Mount Roosevelt on Wednesday to remind the public to keep ailing Rockwood City Councilman Stan Wassom in their thoughts and prayers, said Vice Mayor Peggy Evans.

“Every time you look up at that star, say a prayer,” she said. “We’re hoping it’s going to help. They’re just saying that it doesn’t look good.”

Wassom has been in Parkwest Medical Center’s intensive care unit since Jan. 10.

He was in critical condition while undergoing testing and surgeries to track down the source of internal bleeding.

Evans said doctors found and cauterized the source of bleeding, but Wassom has since been afflicted with respiratory difficulties.

“Evidently, he’s got an infection,” she said. “It sounds like it’s pneumonia — don’t know for sure.”

Evans, who has remained in close contact with the Wassom family throughout the council member’s illness, said family members indicated the infection is bacterial in nature.

“It just breaks my heart,” she said. “He’s a fighter. I know that he’s doing everything internally that he can.”

Wassom was elected to his first term on Rockwood City Council last June.

A longtime chairman of the city’s industrial board, he was appointed by Mayor James Watts to continue his tenure on that board as its council representative. He also serves as the Rockwood Electric Utility board’s council liaison.

Prior to his illness, Wassom was working with Evans and Rockwood Police Chief Bill Stinnett on the formation of the city’s Neighborhood Watch program.

He and his wife, Judy, have a long history of public service in the community. The Wassoms are leaders in the revitalization efforts of Rockwood 2000.

An ardent history buff, Wassom lends his expertise to the nonprofit group for which his wife serves as president.

Their historic home is a highlight on the organization’s annual Christmas Tour of Homes, and Wassom’s passion for history is showcased in the event’s Civil War re-enactments and dramatizations.

“He is one of the best men,” said Evans, who ran for office with Wassom last year. “I knew he was honest and above board — just a rare guy.”

Lighting the star for Wassom’s recovery is a fitting gesture. Judy Wassom was Rockwood 2000’s visionary for the star as a symbol of faith and hope when it was placed atop Mount Roosevelt 19 years ago.

“Everyone will be thinking of him, and hopefully, this will help,” Evans said. “I don’t think you can have too much prayer and too much hope.”

Primarily a part of Rockwood’s Christmas celebration, the star was lit for the 278th Armored Calvary Regiment’s first deployment to Iraq in 2004.

It also has shone over the city after the passing of community leaders, including C.J. “Red” Gill, a retired 40-year REU employee known as “keeper of the star” for his work on the project.