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County facing loss of two department heads

Retiring County Finance Director Leon Harmon (right) accepts a plaque recognizing his admission to the “Order of the Longleaf Pine” from County Commission Chairman Alex Patton during Monday’s commissioners meeting.

Harmon receives ‘Order of the Longleaf Pine’


Staff Writer


Lincoln County is now tasked with replacing two of its government department heads in coming weeks.

County Manager George Wood announced during Monday night’s Board of Commissioners meeting that Public Works Director Burns Whittaker has submitted his resignation, effective Feb. 20.

As the Times-News has previously reported, Finance Director Leon Harmon, who was recognized Monday night, is retiring after 38 years with the county’s finance office, 24 of which he served as director of the department.

“It is a good day for Leon, but a sad day for Lincoln County,” Chairman Alex Patton said of Harmon’s retirement.

The commissioners, on behalf of Gov. Beverly Perdue, presented Harmon with the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, considered among the most prestigious awards handed out in North Carolina.

Notable past recipients of the award, which was established in 1965, include Billy Graham, Danny Glover, Bob Timberlake, Charles Kuralt and Maya Angelou. According Perdue’s office website, the certificate is bestowed upon “outstanding North Carolinians who have a proven record of service to the state.”

Additionally, it is often presented when a state employee retires after 30 or more years of “exemplary service” or to others “who have demonstrated a lifetime of service” to the state.

“I’m humbled and honored to be affiliated with the county for all those years,” Harmon noted after receiving the honor.

He said credit should be given to the county employees in his office.

“I’d like to commend them,” he added.

Wood said a decision on a replacement for Harmon will likely be made later this week or early next week, having finalized a list of candidates. He also noted that the county will now begin a new search to replace Whittaker, who will be moving back to Alabama for reasons involving family, Wood said.

“We hate to see you go,” Patton said to Whittaker.

In other board action at Monday’s meeting:

Commissioners conducted a public hearing for and unanimously signed off on a Community Transportation Program (CTP) grant application in the amount of roughly $395,000.

Commissioners unanimously approved of a $64,914 Assistance to Firefighters Grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. As previously reported, Lincoln County Emergency Medical Services was announced as a recipient of the grant in December. The funds will go toward the purchase of RAD-57 Carbon Monoxide Detectors, which allow EMS workers to measure and monitor the carbon-monoxide levels in an individual’s blood while on the scene at a house fire or like incident and have the ability to detect carbon-monoxide poisoning in a matter of seconds.

Commissioners unanimously passed a resolution for the Recreation Trails Program, as presented by Parks and Recreation Department Director Erma Deen Hoyle.

Commissioners unanimously passed a bid approval for reroofing the “Bank of America” building with Carolina Roofing Solutions of Charlotte in the amount of $143,000.

A closed session “to discuss matters relating to the location or expansion of industries or other businesses in the area served by the public body” was conducted, but no action was taken by commissioners.


Image courtesy of Nayeli Ramirez / Lincoln Times-News

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