Together we have made a difference

Published 11:10 am Wednesday, November 28, 2018

To the Editor:

To the Citizens of Hertford County: I want to thank each and every one of you for your support over the past 18 years as County Commissioner. Each time I was elected you went to the polls and showed your confidence in my ability to do the job of commissioner. I don’t take that lightly or for granted. I sincerely appreciate the opportunity to serve you and help make Hertford County a better place to live.

Many people, too many to name, have supported me, campaigned for me and given me advice about county business. I always tried to do what was best for the citizens and treat everyone fairly. It has been a pleasure serving and I can say I enjoyed the job much more than I anticipated.

My now late father, Ray Farmer, served nine years as a Hertford County Commissioner. I feel he would be proud of my 18 years on the board.

We, the commissioners and staff, have accomplished much in the past 18 years and I am proud and thankful to have been a part of those successes. When I came on the board the tax rate was $1.06, and now it has been $.84 for the past eight years. We instituted performance reviews and initiated longevity pay for all employees. You voted for the quarter cents sales tax to raise money to build a new courthouse.

We made improvements for the county without raising taxes: new courthouse, new office building, new 911 dispatch center, EMS Building expansion, Tunis Sewer

District, new Nutrition Centers in Murfreesboro and Ahoskie, Social Services building renovation, purchased a building for the maintenance department, opened a new elections office in Ahoskie, improved the Health Department by consolidation with Albemarle, closed the old Social Service building in Ahoskie, and hired a great staff to operate the county.

I have served as Chairman of the Board of Commissioners for two, two-year terms.

When the Peanut Belt Rural Planning Organization was formed I was the first Chairman and served five, one-year terms as chair. I learned much about the Department of

Transportation and worked closely with them. I also served 12 years on our Mental Health Board, five of those as Chairman. During that time mental health completely changed the way they do business and we consolidated four counties with five others to form East Carolina Behavioral Health; later adding 10 more counties. Now our mental health organization is Trillium and has 27 counties.

I have thoroughly enjoyed serving on the Tri-County Airport Authority for the past few years. We are entering into several projects next year to include a new terminal and a runway extension.

We have worked to form a County Veterans Advisory Council.

The county is also preparing to build a new elementary school in Ahoskie.

Yes, we have accomplished much together, the Board of Commissioners, the County Manager Loria Williams, the County Attorney Chuck Revelle, all of the county staff and employees, and you the citizens.

I also thank God for the opportunity to serve and thank my family for supporting me when I was not home but doing county business. This is bittersweet, but there comes a time when each of us have to slow down and retire. This is my time. I pray that the new board will continue to build up Hertford County and I wish them all well.

Johnnie Ray Farmer

County Commissioner, Retired