The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, NC

January 9, 2013

Charlie Harrell resigns office

The Daily Southerner
Calvin Adkins

TARBORO — Edgecombe County Commissioner Charlie Harrell’s vote to rezone two sites in the Kingsboro Industrial area from AR-30 to M2 Monday during the county’s regular scheduled meeting, turned out to be one of his last.

Through a letter to the commissioners, Harrell announced his resignation effective immediately. The letter was read by Chairman Leonard Wiggins before the board went into a closed session.

The seemingly abrupt resignation was a shock to the public, however, the  veteran commissioner had informed his fellow comrades he was stepping down.

“I’ll be 68 this month and I’ve served 22 years on the board,” he said. “I felt like itis the right time for me. I also felt it was a good time get a good person, hopefully a young person to allow him or her an opportunity to serve the county.”

The board is expecting to appoint Harrell’s successor within 60 days. Applications and resumes for the seat must be turned in to the county by Jan. 22. The interviewing process will begin Jan. 28.

Harrell is a Democrat, therefore according to state laws, his seat can only be filled by a member of his party.

Edgecombe County Democratic Party can recommend a candidate, however, the final decision on Harrell’s replacement will lie in the hands of the county commissioners.

Harrell said he talked to several people who have shown inrerest about the vacancy, but he’s not advocating for anyone.

“I don’t have any particular person in mind, nor is it my decision. The Democratic party will have some input, into but ultimately it will be up to the remaining county commissioners to fill the appointment.”

Harrell was the longest tenured commissioner on the board. He served 12 years as the chairman and four years as the vice chairman — the position he held until December. Apparently, he had given notice to the board before the December meeting and the governing body appointed Jonathan Felton as vice chairman.

Harrell doesn’t like to toot his own horn, but if he did it will be for what he describes as his proudest accomplishment while serving — developing the county-wide water system.  

“It wasn’t just me, it was the entire board,” he said. “it was a needed service.  Virtually the county was not in the water business. Now, we have water districts that serve basically 50 percent of the population and it’s growing. “We have a $65 to $75 million asset now that provides a very needed service to the people. That’s what I’m most proud of.”

During a 15-year span, Wiggins, who served as vice chairman to Harrell and then replaced him as chairman four years ago, said serving with the senior commissioner, “Has been rewarding and a learning experience. You will be missed.”

Commissioner Viola Harris credits Harrell for her being on the board.

“Mr. Harrell was the reason that I received the first appointment in 2008 and I greatly appreciate him giving me that opportunity.

When I travel abroad, everybody asks me who our chairman was and I told them Charlie Harrell.  I say he’s the most respected person on this board. If it wasn’t broke, there’s no need to fix it. I can truly say he is more than just a commissioner. I trust in him as human being. He’s a man of his words”

Harrell’s resignation doesn’t release him from other public duties. He is on the Mental Health Board, the ABC Board and the Carolina Gateway Partnership Board. But, as of the first Monday in February, Harrell’s time will be spent differently.

“It’s not like I’m totally leaving public serice, I’m just leaving the most visible one,” he said. I still have plenty of other meetings to attend outside of my job. (But on the first Mondays of each month) I will sit home and enjoy. I love my time at home, at night in particular.”