“ I appreciated the time you have let me be with you,” Nichols said to the crowd. “ I’ve stood in front of you for a long time and I appreciate each one of you, but there are people who have sacrificed more than I have.
“ God gave me the best wife and four great children.”
Nichols then asked his family to join him on the podium and then stepped away, asking the audience to applaud them for standing beside him for so many years. After the applause died down he approached the lectern and simply stated, “ I’m through.”
Mitchell presented Nichols with a special memorabilia box including his service weapon, which was engraved with the dates he worked for the NCSO. He then showed the audience a rendering of a street sign reading Joe Nichols Blvd., which will mark the driveway to the Newton County Sheriff’s Office.
Mitchell then opened up the floor to comments from the crowd.
“ The men and women that you leave behind will carry a piece of you in their souls each and every day,” said NCSO Cpl. Sammy Banks.
“ We’ve been through some tough times together and some good times together,” said retiring Newton County Coroner Bob Wheeler, “ but the memories will last a lifetime.”
Several others shared funny stories about Nichols or about how he helped them through hard times. Sheriffelect Brown was the last to speak.
“ My friend, nothing could have prepared me for this moment,” Brown said.“ We’re going to miss you, but I know this is not retirement, this is just the beginning of a new career for you.”
Sheriff Joe Nichols, right, accepts a memorabilia box from NCSO Lt. Mark Mitchell during his retirement party Friday evening at the historic Newton County Courthouse.