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No. 10: Deitemeyer, Parks, Tilley leave in 2016

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College of The Albemarle Board of Trustees Chairman Paul O'Neal (center) reads aloud a prepared resolution honoring departing COA President Kandi Deitemeyer (right) at the trustees' monthly meeting, Tuesday.

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From staff reports

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Editor’s note: This story begins our annual lookback at the top stories of 2016.

2016 brought an end to the tenure of a host of long-serving public officials in the Albemarle, as they either announced plans to retire or leave for job offers outside the region.

Kandi Deitemeyer, president of College of The Albemarle the last six years, tendered her resignation in September, saying she was leaving COA to take over as president of a community college near Charlotte.

Jerry Parks, director of Albemarle Regional Health Services, and three longtime city employees, Bobbi White, Katherine Felton and June Brooks, as well as Perquimans Sheriff Eric Tilley, each announced their immediate plans to retire.

In Camden County, Sheriff Tony Perry announced he would not seek re-election when his current term expires in 2018.

Deitemeyer, speaking Tuesday at a meeting of COA’s Board of Trustees, gave her final remarks as leader of the regional community college. She said that serving as president of COA, which serves students in seven counties with four campuses, has been an amazing chapter in her life. She expressed her gratitude to the trustees for hiring her, and thanked a small group of administrators and support staff attending Tuesday’s meeting. 

"That team over there will be missed. They are incredible,” she told the trustees of the group. “You are in such good hands – and I'm so very proud of what they do every day. So, if I've accomplished anything, it is because they've done the work."

Deitemeyer is leaving at the end of this month to become the new president of Central Piedmont Community College. 

City employees White, Felton and Brooks — who represent a combined 100 years of experience — announced in October they would be retiring effective Dec. 31. Each has worked in municipal government for more than 30 years — and combined they oversee more than $1.5 million in city operations.

White, director of the Elizabeth City-Pasquotank Parks and Recreation Department, started working with the city in 1983. She oversaw a dozen employees in the maintenance of parks and fields across the county. In an interview in October, White said one of her proudest accomplishments was completion of the new handicapped-accessible playground at Fun Junktion. The park is funded by Trillium Health Resources and opened in late November. 

Felton, the city’s Human Resources director, first joined the city in 1981 as a part-time community development secretary. She later oversaw the start-up of a personnel department that consolidated personnel functions, which at the time were managed by each city department. 

Felton said she’s liked working in human resources because it gave her a chance to help people. She saw herself as a liaison between the city and its employees, acting as their advocate while still enforcing the city’s directives.

Brooks, the city’s planning director, was hired by City Manager Rich Olson in 2005, after working 30 years for the city of Portsmouth, Virginia.  

Brooks said in October that she’s worked in planning for some 40 years because she enjoys working with developers and helping guide city growth. Olson praised Brooks for her work on the city’s Coastal Area Management Act land use plan, which, following its adoption by council, has led to grants for downtown waterfront redevelopment, he said.

Jerry Parks, ARHS director the last 16 years,  announced in August he’ll be stepping down Jan. 1.

As director of ARHS, Parks oversaw the health agency that provides vital and varied services in seven counties, from health care and the Inter-County Public Transportation Authority to the Perquimans-Chowan-Gates Landfill. He also oversaw a $22 million annual budget, including a complex mix of county, state and federal funds.

Parks said in August that he will be leaving ARHS in a good shape, financially, in part thanks to the $4.3 million sale of its home health and hospice agencies last year. The sale's proceeds make up for years of major losses — changes to the way Medicare reimburses the agencies made them unprofitable – and will help ARHS avoid asking its member counties for larger annual contributions, according to Parks.

In August, Perry announced he would not seek re-election as Camden sheriff in 2018. Perry, sheriff since 2001, said he’d been thinking of retiring for some time, noting he’ll be eligible for state retirement in 2018. State retirees either have to have 30 years of service with state or local government or reach the age of 55. Perry was 53 at the time of his announcement. 

Perry, a Democrat originally from Perquimans County, joined the Camden Sheriff's Office as a deputy in the summer 1986. He left by the end of the year, however, to become a deputy in Perquimans. He would return to Camden, serving again as chief deputy. However, he lost his job when he decided to run against his boss, then-Sheriff Joe Jones, in 1998.

In 2001, he was appointed sheriff by county commissioners to replace Jones, who had resigned. He would go on to win election in 2002 and re-election in 2006, 2010 and 2014.

In November, Tilley announced that he planned to retire as sheriff on Jan. 31. Tilley, 53 at the time of his announcement, has enough service years and sick leave to retire. 

“I love my job and I love working for the county, but you reach a point where it’s crazy to keep working,” he said. 

Tilley started in law enforcement working for the Perquimans Sheriff’s Office. After a stint working for the Elizabeth City Police Department, he was named to the Perquimans sheriff’s job after Sheriff Ralph Robinson died in 1999. Tilley faced challengers in his first three elections, but he was unopposed in his re-election bid in 2014.

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