Charles D. Sikes, honored Monday as the 2014 Citizen of the Year by Statesboro’s two Rotary Clubs, has served his country, state and county under special circumstances.
An Army veteran of the Vietnam War, Sikes, 67, has more recently served in a Department of Defense contractor role training and assisting law enforcement personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan. He worked 30 years for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, the final 10 as special agent in charge of the Statesboro regional field office, before retiring in 2001. During that time, one of his assignments was as a venue commander during the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.
In Bulloch County, Sikes previously did a three-year turn managing the county probation office. He’s now the interim clerk of the Bulloch County Superior Court, having been appointed last summer after an after an investigation into the handling of money in the clerk’s office led to indictments and resignations.
“In all of those burdens they needed a man to come in, turn it around, fix it and sustain it, and they called on your recipient.” said John B. Edwards, presenting the award at Forest Heights Country Club. “He’s been stepping up for as long as I have known him, and you could not pick a better, more noble, more honorable recipient.”
Sikes emphasized that his role as court clerk will be limited to the interim one. He also indicated he was sharing the honor with others who serve in the clerk of courts office.
“Thank you so much. I’m honored by that which is bestowed upon me by you, and in bestowing it upon me, you bestow it upon my associates in the clerk’s office here in Bulloch County,” he told the Rotary clubs.
Sikes did not mention the background for his appointment, but the elected clerk, Teresa Tucker, resigned effective Dec. 31. Previously on voluntary suspension, she had pleaded guilty to two counts of violation of oath of public office, a felony. Three former deputy clerks pleaded guilty to felony theft by conversion. Sherri Akins, who had returned to work part-time as a deputy clerk after retiring from a long tenure as clerk of courts, entered a no-contest plea to a misdemeanor charge of malfeasance.
So Sikes has been involved in hiring several new employees to the 10-member staff.
A special election for a new clerk of courts to serve through 2016, finishing out Tucker’s term, will be held along with the May 20 general primary. Sikes will not be a candidate and said he is eager to see someone elected and installed in office.
“It’s a lot of responsibility to have,” Sikes said. “I’m getting tired – I can’t tell you I’m not – but I’m going to try to hold on until a constitutional officer who you will select returns to that office.”
He thanked the Effingham and Jenkins county clerks of court for advice they have provided him and the Bulloch County office.
In other remarks, Sikes urged people to take part in jury duty and to vote as two primary responsibilities of citizenship. The Rotary clubs of Downtown Statesboro and Statesboro together present the Citizen of the Year award each year.
The award is supposed to be a surprise. But even before members of his family were coaxed into the banquet room, Sikes had cracked the case. One clue was that Edwards, who succeeded Sikes as special agent in charge of the Statesboro GBI office and is now secretary and treasurer of the Peace Officers Association of Georgia, of which Sikes was once president, served as guest speaker.
“You’re not a peace officer for 40-something years and you don’t understand what’s going on around you, and I kind of did. I’ll have to let you in on something; I kind of did,” Sikes said, eliciting laughter.
Edwards has written a book, due out through Amazon.com by April, entitled “The Burden of Command.” He spoke about the leadership qualities highlighted in the book and called Sikes “a true servant leader,” exceeding in this everyone else he has ever met.
Born in Metter, Sikes earned a degree at Georgia Military College in Milledgeville and became an Army officer. He served two years on active duty, including one year in Vietnam, and then 26 years in the National Guard. He has been a Statesboro resident since 1973 and is also an alumnus of Georgia College, Georgia Southern University, the FBI National Academy and U.S. Army Command and Staff College.
Al Hackle may be reached at (912) 489-9454.