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PINE LEVEL — With some 60 guests on hand during town commissioners’ March 4 meeting, the town of Pine Level promoted one of its own as Lt. Ashley Woodard became the new police chief.
Retiring Pine Level Police Chief Keith Sparks was also recognized during the meeting for his 21 years of service.
Prior to Woodard’s swearing-in ceremony, Sparks thanked town residents and the commissioners and mayor for the support they’d given him over the years.
“This is the most pro-police board in Johnston County,” said Sparks. “They have always gotten us what we needed.”
Sparks praised police officers’ work and recognized the spouses of Pine Level first responders, including medics and firefighters, many of whom were on hand for the ceremony.
Mayor Jeff Holt, who administered the new chief’s oath of office, said he recalled Woodard saying early in his career that he got into law enforcement because he wanted to make a difference.
“Pine Level is very fortunate,” said Holt. “It was an easy choice for us to promote Ashley Woodard as our new chief.”
Originally from Raleigh, Woodard attended Princeton High School, where he graduated in 1995.
He worked at Cyn-Mar Greenhouse in Pine Level after that and later attended Wayne Community College, graduating in 2005 as valedictorian of his basic law enforcement class.
Woodard was hired as a part-time Pine Level police officer in 2005 and went full-time the following year.
He was promoted to sergeant in 2011 and then became lieutenant in 2016.
He is married to wife Marcie Woodard and the couple has two daughters, Ashlyn, 12, and Jodie Grace, 9.
Woodard, 42, said he was “tickled to death” to take on the responsibility of being chief.
“I am excited and appreciate the town board giving me this opportunity,” said Woodard. “I want to especially thank Chief Sparks, who mentored me throughout my training and was always there for me.”