Warren County Sheriff Johnny Williams, who did not run for re-election in the March Primary Election, announced his retirement during the September regular meeting of the Warren County Board of Commissioners. His final day in office will be Nov. 30.
In November 2021, Williams announced that he would not seek re-election after serving as sheriff for seven terms. He was first elected as sheriff in 1994, taking the oath of office in December of that year following the retirement of T.R. Williams from the county’s top law enforcement position.
In his statement announcing that he would not seek re-election to an eighth-term Sheriff Johnny Williams listed what he described as the greatest accomplishments that the Warren County Sheriff’s Office has experienced over what is now more than 27 years: an increase in the number of patrol deputies to the 38 deputies currently serving the community, updating the equipment for the sheriff’s office and E911 Center as technology advanced, ensuring that certifications and training for deputies are current and updated as needed to address constant changes in law enforcement, building collaborative and supportive partnerships with local, state and federal emergency agencies, and assembling a well-trained leadership team to serve the county.
Also during the county commissioners’ meeting, the board approved a resolution declaring Sheriff Williams’ firearm and badge as surplus property and authorized that they be convey to him upon his retirement.
Major John Branche of the Warren County Sheriff’s Office was elected to succeed Williams and will take the oath of office on Dec. 5. Branche, who has worked with the sheriff’s office for more than 23 years, has held positions such as patrol deputy and investigator, and has risen through the ranks to his position of major, or second in command.
There will be a period of several days between the time of Sheriff Williams’ final day in office and when Major Branche will be sworn in as sheriff. Warren County Manager Vincent Jones told the newspaper on Monday that no decision has been about whether to name an interim sheriff during this period, as the board still has some time to make that decision. He added that the board has requested the interim county attorney to advise them of their options.
In other business during its September regular monthly meeting, the Warren County Board of Commissioners:
• Heard comments from the public about the ongoing Community Remembrance Project to recognize two victims of lynchings in Warren County and move forward through reconciliation and healing to seek better, united future for all county residents; about a plea to hunters who utilize dogs to prevent them from wandering through private property, where they could cause disruptions or dangers to residents; and a call for a move from county-wide voting for seats on the board of county commissioners to district voting that would enable residents of a particular district to elect the people who represent them, instead of the entire county.
• Approved an amendment to the Heritage Mulch Project Ordinance to reflect an increase in the NC Department of Transportation reimbursement to $291,332, which increases the appropriation for engineering and construction to that amount. The amendment appropriates funds to the Buck Spring Regional Leadership Excellence Center for reimbursable architectural fees no originally budgeted.
• Approved a capital project ordinance for the Emergency Management John Graham Renovation Project to reflect an Emergency Management Building Competitive Grant in the amount of $383,500 to be used to renovate the John Graham gym for use as an emergency shelter.
• Approved a resolution to apply for a US Department of Transportation Reconnecting Communities Grant in the amount of $160,000 with a match of $40,000 for a total project amount of $200,000. The county budget allocates $100,000 toward the planning work for a greenway/multi-modal path project connecting the county’s three municipalities of Warrenton, Norlina and Macon. The grant application concerns planning a linear park, known as a greenway or trail, along Highways 158 and 401 from Warrenton to Norlina, Hwy. 158 from Norlina to Macon and Hwy. 158 from Macon to Warrenton.
• Approved a one-year cleaning services contract not to exceed $129,600 with the county’s current provider, A+ Commercial Cleaning.
• Gave its authorization for the county to apply for state funding for construction of the following public utilities projects: regional elevated water storage tank, Pleasant Hills Pump station replacement and Eaton Ferry sewer extension.
• Approved a waiver of solid waste tipping fees for North Carolina Department of Transportation shingle and trash cleanup on Hwy. 158. It was reported that over the weekend of Aug. 27, there was an illegal dumping of shingles and trash on Hwy. 158 at the blinking light near Macon. Two loads of trash were taken to the transfer station on Aug. 30.
• Appointed Renee Alston, interim Warren County Department of Social Services director, to the Kerr-Tar Area Transportation Authority. This appointment replaces Wynona Thomas and is effective as long as Alston remains acting interim DSS director.
• Re-appointed Michael Coffman and Jonas Milo Alston to their second terms on the Recreation Commission. The terms run from July 1, 2022-June 30, 2025.
• Appointed Robert L. Chapman to the Warren County Memorial Library Board of Trustees for the first term running from September 2022-Aug. 31, 2025.
• Re-appointed Barbara Brayboy (third term), Elizabeth Greenway (third term), Margaret Hairston (second term), Evelyn Hall (second term), Benjamin Hunter (fourth term) and Janet Lesser (third term) to the Warren County Memorial Library Board of Trustees. Terms run from July 1, 2022-June 30, 2025.