Sheriff Surprised With Order Of Long Leaf Pine Recognition

Sheriff Steve Bizzell (center) received the Order of the Long Leaf Pine during a surprise ceremony Wednesday at the Johnston County Courthouse. He is pictured with his wife, Jennifer (left), and daughter, Brenna (right). Photo

Johnston County Sheriff Steve Bizzell thought he was attending an economic development announcement put together at the last minute Wednesday in the County Commissioners Meeting Room at the Johnston County Courthouse.  Instead, Sheriff Bizzell was surprised to see family, friends and co-workers gathered as he received the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, the highest award that can be presented to a citizen by the Governor of North Carolina.

Steve Keen, State Director of Field Operations for the NC Governor’s Office and a former Wayne County Commissioner, presented the recognition on behalf of Governor Pat McCrory.  “It is an honor to present the Order of the Long Leaf Pine to Sheriff Steve Bizzell,” Keen said. “The Governor calls him a rock star!”

Keen said Gov. McCrory wanted Sheriff Bizzell to know how much he appreciated his work as a public servant, saying Bizzell was committed to the citizens of Johnston County like McCrory was committed to the citizens of North Carolina.

“You got one over on me today,” Sheriff Bizzell said as he accepted the award.  Bizzell, who is entering his 19th year as sheriff, thanked his family, Commissioner Cookie Pope and the other county commissioners, County Manager Rick Hester, 911 Director Jason Barbour, Emergency Management Director Kim Robertson, his administrative staff and deputies, Clerk of Court Michelle Ball and former Clerk of Court Will Crocker, who he called his mentor.

Bizzell said his dedicated staff made the award possible, thanking everyone from his chief deputy to the cooks in the jail who all work hard every day. “It may have my name on it, but it’s what all of you have done for me.”