Local News

Hendersonville ESC Office Set To Reopen

Posted April 8, 2004

— The

Employment Security Commission's

Hendersonville office, at 26 Francis Road, will reopen for business Monday, ESC Chairman Harry Payne Jr. said Thursday.

The office has been closed since a deadly shooting there last Friday.

Manager Letch Beatty was killed, and another employee was injured.

"There is no easy or right day for folks to return and reopen that office," Payne said. "The kindness demonstrated by the Hendersonville community and the values of service that Letch Beatty lived by and fostered in that office will be a much-needed source of strength."

Officials with the ESC said the shooting happened after a conversation between Beatty and a claimant escalated. The employee who tried to help Beatty, 57-year-old Ron Piercy, was treated by a local hospital for a flesh wound in his side and released.

The shooter escaped initially. But officials said a man named William Case was arrested behind a nearby Wal-Mart in connection with the shooting.

Case, 30, is charged with first-degree murder and attempted first-degree murder in the shootings. He is being held in the Henderson County Jail without bond.

Payne said grief counseling will continue to be provided for ESC employees. In addition, the agency will contact all customers who were in the office during Friday's incident to assist -- through the help of the American Red Cross -- with any grief counseling those individuals might request.

Nearly 400 people, including Piercy, attended a memorial service Wednesday for Beatty at Thos. Shepherd and Son Chapel.

Mourners lined up in the chapel to speak with Beatty's family members, including his wife, Denise Plemmons, his father, Brice Beatty, and his sister, Sara Marie White.

Piercy, still recovering from a flesh wound in his side, attended the funeral with his wife, Nancy.

After giving Beatty's wife a long hug at the grave site, Piercy said the past several days had been hard for everyone.

"I'm feeling a little shaky right now, but I'll be OK," he said, his eyes glistening with tears. "It will never seem the same without him. I'll miss him."

Beatty began his career with the ESC in 1975, doing his job quietly, but effectively, ESC regional manager Jim McMahan said in a eulogy. He was named manager of the ESC office in April 1998 after serving as an interviewer at the ESC office in Asheville.

McMahan credited the family atmosphere Beatty created among his staff as a primary reason that the office was well-managed.

"I knew him for 14 years, and he was tall and strong, just like the mountains that surrounded him," McMahan said. "He was a gentle man who would rather resolve a problem than argue the fine points."



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