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Despite suspension, Atkins stays in race
Atkins good
Joe Atkins has been placed on administrative leave from his position leading the Effingham County Health Department, but he insists he will not drop out of the race for Rincon City Council. Atkins also has been called to active duty by the Air Force Reserves. - photo by File photo

Effingham County Health Department Administrator Joe Atkins and two other employees have been placed on administrative leave.
Atkins and the two unidentified employees were suspended last week, although the reason for the suspension has not been released.

In an e-mail to the media Wednesday, Atkins said he and two employees at the Effingham County Health Department were placed on administrative leave last Thursday.

“As I am still an employee of that agency, I cannot make any further comments with regard to that situation, but will simply say that I enjoyed my time with the Effingham County Health Department and believe that the organization was more effective and prospered under the last three and 1/2 years of my leadership,” he said. “I appreciate the support of the Board of Health and the employees of the Health Department; I am proud of the organization’s accomplishments and those of my employees and I wish the organization well as it continues to serve the citizens of Effingham County. I will make no further public comments with regard to my departure from the Effingham County Health Department.”

Atkins also insisted he intends to remain a candidate for the Rincon City Council. He was unable to attend Wednesday morning’s Effingham Chamber of Commerce candidates forum at First Baptist Church of Rincon because he has been called to active duty by the Air Force Reserve.

“In no way does this decrease my commitment to the city of Rincon,” he said. “I have made the choice to sacrifice my time and resources to continue to serve my country in the Air Force Reserve. This to me is a higher calling and one that I have built my life around and at times that means I must sacrifice, like all those who continue to serve in the Reserve and Guard, and I will continue to do so even if it means the loss of an election or position.”

Elections will be held Nov. 3 to determine the mayor and three council positions for the city of Rincon.

A Coastal Health District spokesman said the health department’s ability to deliver services has not been impacted by any personnel actions that have been taken.