Holley, Atkins trade places

Published 9:40 am Thursday, February 18, 2010

WINDSOR – A week into his new job as Sheriff of Bertie County, John Holley says all is going well.

“It’s an honor to work for the people of Bertie County,” Sheriff Holley said. “I get up every day and feel honored to be in this position and to continue what I’ve done all my adult life – protect and serve the people of Bertie County.”

Holley, who was Chief Deputy until being appointed sheriff on February 5 upon the resignation of former sheriff Greg Atkins, said his duties are quite different.

“As Chief Deputy, most of your duties revolve around the courtroom,” he said. “You’re the bailiff for Superior Court and you’re responsible for making sure the courtroom is secure whenever court is in session.”

The new sheriff said that meant he had spent much of the last 11 years in the courtrooms of the county rather than out on the streets working as he is required to do as sheriff.

“It’s different, but before I became sheriff, I worked the streets of Bertie County for a long time,” he said. “I was a Detective for Sheriff (J. Wallace) Perry and I was out in the county all the time.”

Sheriff Holley said he was thankful for his predecessors as both Atkins and Perry helped him learn the things he needed to know to serve as a sheriff in his own right.

“Sheriff Perry helped me a lot,” Holley said. “He helped me get ready to be sheriff one day. Thanks to Sheriff Perry and Sheriff Atkins, I have served at every level in this office. I know what it’s like to do everything that has to be done.”

One of the first duties the new sheriff had to do was fill his position as Chief Deputy. He didn’t take long or look far when it came time to place someone in the post.

“I asked Greg Atkins to serve as Chief Deputy,” Sheriff Holley said. “He has 20-plus years of experience in the department and 11 as sheriff. I don’t think you can ask for anyone with more experience in that position.”

Atkins resigned the post of sheriff because Holley would have been ineligible to seek election if he were not sheriff already because of a federal law known as the Hatch Act which keeps federal employees and those who receive federal grants from seeking public office.

“I had no intention of resigning early until the situation came up with the Hatch Act that was going to prevent John from running unless he was already the sheriff,” Atkins said. “When that situation arose, I did what I could to help him.”

For his part, Atkins said he enjoyed the opportunity to continue his service to the people of Bertie County.

“I’m not ready to retire,” Atkins said. “My heart’s here. I ran for sheriff because I wanted to serve the people of Bertie County and now I can continue that service, just in a different capacity.”

As for working for the person who served as his Chief Deputy for 11 years, Atkins said there’s no reason the situation won’t work.

“We’ve worked together as Sheriff and Chief Deputy for 11 years,” he said. “I see no reason we can’t continue to do just that.”