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Bitter-sweet celebration

Dance competition winners Donna Mizelle and Rick Harrell (foreground in white shirts) are joined by other Bertie County employees at the county’s annual Christmas party held Friday in Windsor. Staff Photo by Thadd White

WINDSOR – The Bertie County Christmas party was filled with laughter and tears here Friday.

The county’s employees celebrated Christmas 2011 with a celebration at the Bertie County Council on Aging. Amid the celebration was a showcase of “Dancing with the Bertie County Stars” which drew smiles, cheers and laughter from the crowd.

The gathered throng also said their official goodbyes to Bertie County Manager Zee Lamb, who is leaving his post after 11 years on Dec. 31. That farewell drew tears as well as congratulatory applause.

The program began with Bertie County Commission Chairman L.C. Hoggard III welcoming the county’s employees and talking about the recent year.

He talked about the successes in the county and credited those to a working effort between the county commissioners, county manager and county employees.

Following lunch, Hoggard returned to the podium and thanked all the county’s employees for their hard work and dedication and wished them a safe and happy Christmas and New Year.

Then, the entertainment took center stage with three Bertie County Commissioners and their partners competing with two members of the Bertie County Sheriff’s Department for the best dance competition.

The afternoon began with Hoggard and his partner, Evelyn White. They were followed by Norman and Jean Cherry and then Sheriff’s Office employees Carl Hoggard and Bonnie Brantley.

Closing the competition was Bertie County Commissioner Rick Harrell and Recreation Director Donna Mizelle.

Harrell said he had never danced in his life and enlisted the help of Mizelle’s husband, Dean, who runs an audio system business. That enabled Harrell’s performance to be louder and he enlisted the help of the audience.

“I don’t stand a chance if y’all don’t help me,” he said.

The duo then did their dance to rousing applause from the county’s employees.

Upon vote – by applause – Harrell and Mizelle were declared the winners of the event.

The next order of business was to recognize the employees reaching milestones in their career with the county.

Recognized for 35 years of service was Bertie County Register of Deeds Belinda White. Others recognized included:

  • For 20 years of service – Wanda Hoggard (Communications), Lee Lawrence (DSS), Ellen Taylor (Finance);
  • For 15 years of service – Stefanie Bell (DSS), Eleanor Bond (DSS), Sandy Bryant (Inspections), Krista Rhea (DSS), Bettie Rice (DSS), Ricky Spivey (Water);
  • For 10 years of service – Steve Biggs (Economic Development), Angela Bond (BCSO), Jean Copeland (DSS), Margaret Keys-Jones (DSS), Donna Mizelle (Recreation), Lutricia Morris (Maintenance), Alycia Saulsbury (DSS);
  • For five years of service – Travis Askew (BCSO), William Dunlow (Animal Control), Celestine Jenkins (DSS), Kevin Johnson (BCSO), Kenneth Perry (BCSO), Anthony Rascoe (Maintenance), Hosea Wilson (Tax); and
  • New employees – Rose Brinkey (DSS), Lyntinka Cherry (Communications), Lucille Dunlow (DSS), Brian Edmondson (BCSO), Kevona Holley (Communications), Antoine Hoo (BCSO), Dwayne Outlaw (BCSO), Beverly Peele (BCSO).

The final event of the day was a special presentation in which county employees said goodbye to Lamb via a video message. Each department took time to thank him for his service and wish him well.

At the conclusion, Lamb expressed his gratitude for the county employees.

“First of all, this is a bitter-sweet occasion for me,” Lamb said. “The last 11 years I’ve had the best job of my life. I’ve had a few, but this is the best job I’ve had.

“I want to thank the county employees,” he said. “Bertie has a lot to be proud of. I urge you to keep it positive even when people try not to be positive to you.”

He said the county staff was about the business of working for the people of Bertie County.

“Government is supposed to be about working for the good of the people,” he said. “That is what you’re about and what I’ve tried to be about for the last 11 years.”

Hoggard added the thanks of the Bertie County Commissioners for Lamb’s service and also said the county’s employees were appreciated.

“The bottom line is that it is not about you or me, but the people we serve,” Hoggard told the county employees. “Thank you for your service to our county.”