A saying attributed to the Greek philosopher Aristotle goes something like this: If you can’t follow, you’re not going to make a good leader.

Floyd County’s sheriff, Tim Burkhalter, who will be retiring from that post a few days after this editorial is published, is a good leader.

He learned how to be a good leader by working his way through the ranks and learning from other leaders, like retiring Chief Deputy Tommy McGuire and others.

During a recent roast, in the guise of a farewell gathering, McGuire and former sheriff’s deputy Scotty Hancock talked a little about those qualities of leadership that Tim might have learned early on.

If the stories are to be believed about our sheriff in his younger days, he’d gotten himself and Scotty into some trouble and they ended up before the very man Tim would make his chief deputy many years later.

Now Tommy was known for being a firm disciplinarian but was also known for having the ability to realize that the past is the past. You make a mistake, and hopefully you get to move on from that mistake.

He’d take those he’d had to admonish out to lunch later to let them know bygones are bygones.

That’s a lesson Tim seemed to take to heart.

Another facet of a good leader is knowing how to delegate responsibility and there’s one thing about our soon-to-be former sheriff — he knew how to find the best person for the job and talk them into doing that job.

Kind of a Tom Sawyer white picket fence situation if you think about it.

When voters approved SPLOST-funding for a jail expansion in the form of a medical pod with a mental health wing as well as a new training center, Tim Burkhalter looked around for the best person for the job.

He found the ever competent Maj. Bob Sapp to take care of it.

You know, to be fair, Tim probably deserved to take a few days to go hunting for nailing that decision.

In other cases, like the Sheriff’s Santa program, Tim found his executive assistant Mechelle Cliatt to take over. She’s been the driving force behind that program for years and this year the program distributed gifts to over 300 children.

Again, he probably deserved a few days of relaxation on a fishing boat for that one too.

Are you sensing a pattern? Whenever competent and capable hands took the wheel, Tim took a break. We think it’s a good omen, then, that he’s about to take a much deserved retirement break since the very competent and extremely capable hands of Dave Roberson have taken the wheel.

It appears that Dave, like others under Tim’s watchful gaze, has been given the tools, the training and most importantly the good example to assume the mantle of leadership. And Tim can step away (into a deer stand or a fishing boat) knowing the job is in good hands.

Anytime a person is in a leadership position there are always going to be bumps in the road. It’s how you handle those difficulties that is a true reflection of your character.

Under Tim’s tenure there have been issues at the jail which might have been easier to try and sweep under the rug, but for the most part he didn’t. We’ve dealt with our local sheriff’s office on a daily basis for years and are appreciative of their efforts to provide us with public documents largely without issues.

That may not sound like praise to some, but that flow of information from the sheriff’s office to the public (through the media) is not as reliable everywhere in this state, or even in Northwest Georgia. We realize that and appreciate the cooperation of our sheriff and the Floyd County Sheriff’s Office.

Humor aside, this year has been one to test even the best of them on a number of different levels. We feel that Tim Burkhalter has handled himself remarkably well.

Thank you for reading.

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