North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory announced the appointments to his Task Force on Safer Schools last week with Sheriff Robbie Holland being one of the few representatives from the western part of the state. Members range from students and teachers to elected officials, lawyers and law enforcement from across North Carolina.
“I consider it an honor for the governor to select me to represent law enforcement for the far west and the people I proudly serve,” said Holland. “My top priority has always been to protect our most vulnerable citizens and I will take the governor's appointment seriously and look forward to being a voice for my community striving to make positive improvements in keeping our kids safer.”
The task force will provide guidance to the Center for Safer Schools and consider future policy and legislative action that is needed to improve school safety in North Carolina.
“School safety is a top priority of my administration,” said Gov. McCrory. “One of my first actions after taking office was tasking the Department of Public Safety with developing a comprehensive plan to make our schools safer for students, parents, teachers and administrators. I am pleased to announce a very diverse, talented and functional task force that will provide guidance and sound advice that is needed to improve school safety in North Carolina.”
Holland, along with two residents from Jackson County, make up the representation on the 20-member statewide task force from North Carolina's westernmost counties. “North Carolina does not end at Asheville and WNC deserves to have a voice in Raleigh,” said Holland. “Things are much different here than they are in the east and our needs can vary therefore having input will be very important.”
The Jackson County residents appointed to the task force include Mary Jane Ferguson and Greta Metcalf. Ferguson recently retired as director of marketing and promotions for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. Ferguson is a member of the tribe, taught public school in Jackson County and served as a school board member for EBCI schools. Metcalf is the chief operating officer for Jackson and Haywood County Psychological Services. She was the care manager and outpatient counselor at Smoky Mountain Center.
Now in his third term as sheriff, and as the only sheriff appointed to the task force, Holland looks forward to bringing his expertise to the board. “I have over 20 years of experience as a law enforcement officer and 12 years as sheriff, and prior to that several years as a juvenile officer working with school administrators and various community leaders,” said Holland. “I have played an active role in helping to establish legislation and have always been an advocate for children. I have assisted in implementing a number of programs in our school system regarding school safety. The most important thing I bring to the table is that I have always been a pro-active leader. When it comes to our youth, I have always been a strong advocate keeping their best interest at heart.”
Holland, who has been an active supporter of bringing School Resource Officers (SROs) to all schools within Macon County, hopes to take that opinion to the state. “I would like to see a concerted effort that school safety is every district's top priority ... and I want to see action, not just words,” said Holland. “As many know, I have been a proponent of additional SROs in our schools and I continue to stand by that. SROs play a vital role in our schools and it's not just about someone in uniform carrying a gun.”