Hollingsed leads by example
From statewide organizations to local boards, Bill Hollingsed runs the gamut when it comes to helping solve the issues that affect the community most. Not to mention, he has an entire agency to run. As chief of the Waynesville Police Department, Hollingsed has his work cut out for him. But that’s never slowed him down, especially when an issue involves young people.
So when it came time for the Rotary Club of Haywood County to select this year's award for Citizen of the Year, Hollingsed was the top vote from rotary club members, said Bill Upton.
A couple years ago, when Hollingsed started noticing the sharp increase of overdose deaths by prescription pills, many of them teens, he made it a personal mission to raise awareness about the drugs.
“I find it easy to get motivated when we see drugs not only ruining the lives of individuals and families, but especially when you see it taking the lives of so many young people,” he said.
Over the years he’s given hundreds of presentations to any group of people willing to listen, from students to churches to civic groups. Recently, he’s been working closely with the community driven organization Drugs in Our Midst, which aims at drug education.
Jean Parris, who heads up the organization, said the Citizen of the Year award could not have gone to a more deserving person.
“This is his own passion and he does this on his own time,” she said.
And when he’s not busy informing the public about the risk of prescription drug addiction, he can often be found in Raleigh working with legislators to create bills to help curb the statewide drug epidemic.
When synthetic marijuana and bath salts appeared on the scene in Haywood County about two years ago, Hollingsed took action on that issue as well.
He and other police chiefs across the county started at the source of the problem by asking convenience store owners to discontinue selling the products, especially to young people. Not long after, synthetics began disappearing from local shelves.
But it’s not just the drug problem that Hollingsed has helped tackle.
When Ellen Pitt first started as the Mothers Against Destructive Decisions (MADD) Representative for Western North Carolina in 2003, Hollingsed was always there to lend a helping hand.
“Anything I ever needed from his agency for public education he was always there,” she said.
It didn’t take her long to realize that not only was he passionate about helping others, but he was an excellent leader and role model for his employees.
“If you want to know what kind of man he is, just take a look at his officers. He sets the tone at the top,” Pitt said.
Hollingsed made professionalism a top priority for the entire agency in the office, out on the streets and in the courtroom.
“His officers reflect his leadership,” she said.
Waynesville Mayor Gavin Brown echoed her sentiments, also speaking of his professionalism.
"Any time you talk about Bill it's always in terms of excellence," Brown said. "That is sort of who Bill is. He doesn't do anything halfway."
One time, Brown asked Hollingsed why he always wore his uniform and bullet proof vest, and his answer was a breath of fresh air for the mayor.
"Bill said, 'I'm not going to ask my men to do something that I won't do,' and he takes that to everything he does," Brown said.
Even the people who work with him daily feel the same way.
"Chief Hollingsed demonstrates remarkable leadership skills by being a living example of dedication to the people of Waynesville and Haywood County," said Lt. Chris Chandler with the Waynesville Police Department. "He spends countless hours serving his community with the goal of making Haywood County a safer place for everyone."
Of course, in his humble nature, Hollingsed said, "I truly appreciate the award, but the majority of the credit for what we do go to the men and women of this agency. They're the ones that make us all proud."