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Bertie Sheriff resigns

WINDSOR – Bertie County Sheriff Greg Atkins has submitted his letter of resignation.

The 11-year incumbent sheriff will step down from his post at 2 p.m. Friday in an attempt to rectify a situation that has been brought about by the Hatch Act, a law which stops federal employees and those benefitting from federal grants from seeking election.

“My original intention was not to run in the upcoming election, but I was going to fulfill my term,” Sheriff Atkins said. “I was going to support (Chief Deputy) John (Holley) when he ran for sheriff.”

Holley was not able to seek the sheriff’s post, however, due to a ruling on the Hatch Act that would bar him from seeking office because of a federal grant received by the sheriff’s office. The grant would keep anyone in a supervisory role, such as Chief Deputy, from seeking office except the sheriff.

“Because of this legal issue, the only practical way for him to run was for me to step aside,” Sheriff Atkins said. “John and I work together closely and have for 20 years. We’re both heading toward the end of our career and he wants to retire as sheriff and I certainly understand that.”

Sheriff Atkins said the only way for Holley to be able to do that was to be the sheriff at filing time, which opens Monday. For that reason, Atkins decided to resign his post and ask the Bertie County Commissioners to appoint Holley in his stead.

“I have resigned as of Friday and asked the commissioners to appoint him so he could run,” Sheriff Atkins said. “Obviously, it is up to them, but I’m confident they’ll do that.”

Sheriff Atkins began his career with the Bertie County Sheriff’s Office in 1987 and served as a deputy for just over a decade before running for Sheriff in 1998. He was elected to three consecutive terms after winning the initial race.

Upon becoming Bertie County Sheriff, Atkins immediately appointed Holley to serve as his Chief Deputy.

“We’ve worked closely together as patrol deputies and then as sheriff and chief deputy for over 20 years,” Atkins said. “I absolutely think he’ll make a good sheriff.”

Sheriff Atkins said he had enjoyed his three terms in office and was glad he had the opportunity to serve the people of Bertie County.

“It’s been a pleasure to serve,” Sheriff Atkins said. “It’s been an honor and a privilege.”

Two sheriffs in neighboring counties said they would miss working with Atkins because he has done such a good job for the county.

“Sheriff Atkins has been an exceptional sheriff for Bertie County,” said Northampton County Sheriff Wardie Vincent. “I’ve worked closely with him on many cases and I couldn’t have asked for a better neighboring sheriff than Greg Atkins.

“He has shared his resources and manpower on many occasions,” Sheriff Vincent added. “I was hoping he would continue on, but I certainly respect his decision.”

Hertford County Sheriff Juan Vaughan agreed.

“Sheriff Atkins has been great to work with over the years,” Sheriff Vaughan said. “Whenever I’ve called and needed his help, he has always been there to assist me.

“I appreciate all his hard work and his dedication to the people of his home county,” Sheriff Vaughan added. “He has been a pleasure to work with.”

While he still has another day on the job, Sheriff Atkins made it clear he is not leaving law enforcement and is not ready to retire.

“I’ve got some plans,” he said. “I don’t think right now is the time to talk about them, but I’m not retiring yet.”

No matter what the future holds, Sheriff Atkins made it clear he is glad he spent 11 years as Bertie County’s top law enforcement officer.

“The reason I originally ran is because I could do things to help people as sheriff that I couldn’t do before,” he said. “I believe I have done that and it is something I have thoroughly enjoyed.”

The Bertie County Commissioners will meet at 2 p.m. on Friday to discuss the sheriff’s resignation and make an appointment to fill the remainder of the term which expires in December.