Chief Carries Long Days & Logistics to Keep Bridge Day Running Smoothly
Every year, tens of thousands of people from all corners of the world come to Fayetteville to celebrate Bridge Day. Hundreds of folks come together to make this event fun and safe for all involved. Our Community Series highlights people in the community & what they do to support Bridge Day. Each of the people who organize, coordinate and volunteer their time have a passion for West Virginia, Bridge Day and the community of the New River Gorge. These are their stories.
With all the people who flock to town to enjoy Bridge Day, logistics and safety become a big— and we mean BIG— responsibility.
Thankfully, Fayetteville Police Chief Matt Jefferies has fond memories running all the way back to the very first festival, and is now happy to pick up the torch, holding together the nuts and bolts that make it possible.
Chief Jefferies grew up in Fayetteville. A former EMS Paramedic in Fayette, Raleigh and Kanawha Counties, he has been in law enforcement since 1990. He was a Detective with the Beckley Police department for 9 of his 11 years there, and worked as an insurance investigator before becoming Chief of the Fayetteville PD in early 2013.
Chief Jeffries is very active in the community, too. He’s a member of the Lion’s Club, a volunteer with the Fayetteville Fire Department and on the Fayette County Rope Rescue Team. A former Boy Scout, he’s spent years camping with his sons and target shooting all over Fayette County. When he’s not managing Law Enforcement or volunteering, he likes to relax with his family.
What Bridge Day Means to Matt:
“Bridge Day means we get up early. We coordinate with the West Virginia State Police and the Fayette County Sheriff’s Department.
“I’ve been a part of Bridge Day since there’s been a Bridge Day. I remember when they had the first Bridge Day, I was a Boy Scout in the Fayetteville troop. My troop did a flag ceremony out on the Bridge.
“I’ve attended Bridge Day as part of the Fayetteville Fire Department, as a part of the Rope Rescue Team and as an adult with my family. Now with my duties as chief, my time is spent managing logistics in town.
“I enjoy it. Of course, it’s more enjoyable when the weather is nice.”
What’s Your Role in Bridge Day:
“In addition to the work I do at the event, I am on the Security Committee within the Commission, and I am the town of Fayetteville’s representative on the Commission.
“The Fayetteville PD assists in getting the vendors organized and through the security checks, getting them to their spot out by the bridge. Throughout the day we manage traffic through town, give directions to people and answer questions. We deal with whatever comes up and assist however we are needed, whether it’s unlocking vehicles, a medical emergency or a lost child. After the events on the Bridge wind down, there’s a Chili Cook-Off in town, and we have to manage traffic, as part of Court Street is closed for the event.”
Best Bridge Day Memory:
“When I was not working in 2011, I took my Dad who was battling Alzheimer’s out onto the bridge in his wheelchair. He really enjoyed it, and I was happy to see him relaxed and enjoying himself.”
Favorite Bridge Day Souvenir:
“I got the certificate for walking across the bridge at the first Bridge Day.
“As a member of the County’s Rope Rescue Team (who rescue any BASE Jumpers that may get stuck in the trees), we always had t-shirts made up for the team for Bridge Day.”
Favorite Bridge Day Food:
“Philly Cheese Steak. Oh, those are GOOD!”
Favorite Bridge Day Tradition:
“I don’t know that I really have any traditions. We start early and finish late, so I’m kind of beat. Maybe it’s getting a good night’s sleep after the event is over.”
Most Exciting View:
“It might not be the most exciting view to everyone, but the view I like the best is looking out across the crowd and seeing everything going smoothly. It’s the best view when everything runs smooth. We plan Bridge Day all year, so seeing it being successful is very rewarding. When we’ve implemented a change and you get to see it work, that’s the best feeling.”