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Hawkins won't seek re-election to Board of Commissioners next year

Grady Hawkins, the current chair of the Henderson County Board of Commissioners, announced Wednesday that he won't seek re-election to a fifth term next year and will retire from the board.

A decorated Air Force veteran, Hawkins, 76, pointed to progress in emergency services, rural fire coverage, and the adoption of a four-year capital improvements plan while keeping taxes low as achievements he takes pride in.

"It has truly been an honor to serve the citizens of Henderson County during the past 16 years," he said "I am proud to say that as a member of the BOC we contributed to the improvements of the quality of life our citizens now enjoy. We have greatly increased our emergency medical services including shorter response times .

"Our volunteer fire departments have systematically increased their coverage of the county as well as increasing their fire protection ratings resulting in lower home insurance rates. With an eye to the future, public schools and our community college facilities have made steady safety improvements due to efforts made by the County Commissioners and staff.

"The county now moves on to a new four-year financial plan which will insure the highest level of serve to our citizens while simultaneously keeping one of the lowest tax rate in the State of North Carolina. For that I am proud!"

A native of Buncombe County, Hawkins graduated from Enka High School, earned a degree in mathematics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a master's in public administration from the University of Oklahoma, Master of Public. A retired U.S. Air Force colonel, he flew more than 300 combat mission during his service in the Vietnam War. He served as a county commissioner from 1996 until 2004, and was elected again in 2012, when he defeated incumbent Bill O'Connor. He was re-elected to the board in 2016 and has been chairman since last December.