Recognizing Some Of Our SuperSTAR Employees

It’s no secret that the city is fortunate to have an abundance of outstanding employees who are dedicated to serving the Wilmington community.

Every quarter, we honor a select group of these employees with the STARS (Service, Teamwork, Accountability & Professionalism, Respect, Safety) Awards, recognizing their exceptional work.

The following were recognized during the City Council meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 7:


Ernest Marsan (Fire Department)

Firefighter Ernest Marsan joined the department in May 2021 as a new recruit.
Shortly after completing recruit academy, he volunteered to become a Lead Shift
Educator. As the Lead Shift Educator, Ernie saw a need within the community
to help individuals to connect with needed services, so he established Empower
Wilmington. This program is geared toward the underserved population and helps
allocate local resources through community partners to reduce risk and improve
quality of life. Ernie plans to continue to assist our community by coordinating additional events to bring much needed services together for the public. Ernie’s work ethic, respect for others, professionalism, and his heart to serve are evident in everything he does.


Nicole Smith (Planning)

Nicole had an idea to engage the community for the Greater Downtown
Plan before our project kickoff to let them help us determine the specialties
needed for our consultants She takes on these collaborative opportunities
with passion, dedication, and professionalism. She has brought the last two
code amendments through, and she often covers the planning intake desk
as the Planner on Duty. Nicole takes on these endeavors with full focus and a smile. She leads by example. Her knowledge and application of planning and development practices are only eclipsed by her ability to knit that expertise into a cross-departmental collaboration.


Sara Yanosy (Public Services)

Sara Yanosy agreed to take on the role of Buildings Manager, on an interim basis, with very little direct experience with building maintenance. While she learned quite a bit on buildings, she also gained the experience of managing a division. In addition, she has gone to extensive efforts to prepare the new manager for his role. Most importantly, Sara recognized the importance of providing a value-added service to our citizens.


Lynn Hartley (Police)

Lynn Hartley was nominated for the woman’s impact award within the community. Every day she works with her fellow Officers to provide a safer environment for the community. She is a daily inspiration for the importance of community engagement. Her compassion is exemplary to not only her coworkers and the citizens, but to even the animals she comes across in the city streets. Lynn is a team leader but asks those around their opinions on what they would like to see or believe they would benefit from. Every day she is smiling and shows a true commitment to being an officer.


Tim Collins & Deven Laverdure (Engineering)

Tim and Deven were conducting preventative maintenance on the traffic signal at the intersection of Market Street and Kerr Avenue when they noticed a car that had not moved after receiving a green light. They walked over to the gentleman and noticed he had passed out at the wheel and were unable to get his attention or wake him. They called WPD to respond due to the vehicle being in gear and the gentleman passed out with his foot on the brake pedal not knowing if it were a medical emergency. They directed traffic around the stopped vehicle until police arrived on scene to render aid and safety.

Council Recap: Honoring Our STAR Employees and A Cherished Local Historian

Wilmington City Council held its first regular meeting for the month of February and first up, the Order of the Long Leaf Pine was presented to Wilmington native Captain Wilbur Jones for exemplary service to the state of North Carolina.

A veteran, author, and historian, Captain Jones played a pivotal role in having Wilmington named as the first American World War II Heritage City.

“Here’s to the land of the long leaf pine the summer land where the sun shines. Where the weak grow strong and the strong go great. Here’s to down home, the old north state. Thank you and good evening,” Wilbur said after accepting the award.

Council also recognized numerous city employees who have gone above and beyond in their performance and service to the community.

Next, council accepted a $155,000 grant from the NC Public Beach and Waterfront Access program, which will help pay for an ADA-accessible kayak launch at Bradley Creek.

A voter-approved bond project, the launch will be located just west of the Oleander Drive bridge and is in the preliminary stage of design.

Lastly, council passed a resolution supporting the Lower Cape Fear Water and Sewer Authority’s request for state funding of pipe infrastructure.

This funding would help ensure the continued reliable availability of raw water for our region.

City Council will meet again on February 21st at 6:30 p.m. For more on this meeting, visit

Bijou Park and North Front Street Officially Open to Community

It’s been a long time coming but Bijou Park and North Front Street are officially open to the community following a ribbon cutting ceremony Tuesday, Feb. 8.

Mayor Bill Saffo — who was joined by Mayor Pro-tem Margaret Haynes, council members Neil Anderson, Kevin Spears, and Clifford Barnett Sr., and New Hanover County commissioner Deb Hayes — spoke to a large crowd who gathered at Bijou Park for the celebration.

Saffo first reflected on the $3.5 million, voter-approved North Front Street streetscape project which included the installation of new water, sewer, stormwater, and underground electrical utilities, as well as new pavement, granite curbing, sidewalks, decorative bricks, lighting, landscaping and street furnishings all while maintaining access to local business in the two blocks.

“Why is this so important? Many of us remember when there was little motivation to walk north of the Cotton Exchange. With the development of the convention center, the Embassy Suites, the Aloft hotel, Riverfront Park, and the Live Oak Pavilion – that has all changed,” Saffo said. “Today, throngs of people now traverse these blocks on their way to points north. The center of gravity of downtown has and will continue to shift north. Infrastructure projects like this … are what make this possible.”

And historic Bijou Park, which was originally known as The Bijou when it opened as the city’s first movie theater in 1906 before closing in 1956 and finally torn down in 1963, received an $800,000 facelift that involved demolition, installation of new stormwater and underground utilities, signage, decorative concrete, pavers, landscaping, and furnishings. The remaining original tiles from the old theater were preserved.

“Do you remember what it used to be like to use Bijou Park to get to Water Street?” Saffo asked. “Down the old stairs and through the bottom of the old parking deck. Easy to get lost if you didn’t know where you were going. Not anymore. This park provides an interesting and useful gateway that connects the business corridor on Front Street to Riverplace, the Riverwalk and all of the activity on Water Street. It is a signature open space.”

Saffo offered his thanks to Wilmington Downtown Inc and the Downtown Business Alliance for their hard work during the midst of all the Front Street construction that the local businesses were not closed and remained open and accessible.

“The signage, banners, promotions, social media and word of mouth that WDI and the DBA committed to —was essential in getting us through this project,” Saffo said.

And lastly, Saffo thanked the local businesses themselves for bearing with the city during the project.

“From the Cotton Exchange down to the Pour Tap Room- the whole two blocks and even the folks up on Grace Street and at Cape Fear Community College, I know this was difficult for you. But we accomplish great things when we work together. Thanks for bearing with us. I’m glad that your customers now get to enjoy this fabulous stretch of Front Street and this signature park,” he said.

Second Part Of Emancipation Proclamation Discussion Series Set For Feb. 9

As part of the 2023 Emancipation Proclamation Series, the city’s Commission on African American History presents “Black Literary Societies and Education: Past, Present and Future” on Thursday, Feb. 9 at 4 p.m. at Cape Fear Museum’s Williston Room, located at 814 Market Street.

In addition to a panel discussion, attendees will be provided with information about current educational initiatives. Panelists include:

  • Ms. Geralyn Love, Student Support Specialist for Communities in Schools of Cape Fear at D.C. Virgo Preparatory Academy
  • Ms. Sabrina Hill-Black, Principal of D. C. Virgo Preparatory Academy
  • The Honorable Kevin Spears, Wilmington City Councilmember
  • Dr. Van Dempsey, Dean of the Watson College of Education at UNCW
  • Dr. Charles Foust, Superintendent of New Hanover County Schools