Jeff Branch honored by North Carolina Governor

Jeff Branch (left) receiving his award from Attorney Charles Browne

Jeff Branch of the Montgomery County, NC Sheriff’s Department – promoter of the Big Lick Bluegrass festival and Bluegrass in Troy, emcee for Doyle Lawson’s festival, and Mayberry tribute artist – was a recent recipient of the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, the most prestigious award that the Governor Of North Carolina can bestow upon a citizen. 

The state’s highest honor is presented to individuals who have made significant contributions to the state through their exemplary service and exceptional accomplishments. Branch recently retired with 30 years of service as a DARE (drug abuse resistance education) officer in the school system, teaching elementary through high school students. His law enforcement duties also included supervising school resource officers, working in the civil division completing special processes for the sheriff, and serving as a court bailiff.

Steve Dilling of Sideline expressed his enthusiasm. “Congratulations to my friend, Jeff Branch. He has always given back to the community whether it was on his job as a DARE Officer, bluegrass music promoter, event emcee, or portraying Mayberry character, Howard Sprague. He always has one objective, helping people out. Well deserved!”

David Browning, actor/director/entertainer of Bristol, VA, who portrays the Mayberry Deputy, added, “Jeff is a man of extreme loyalty to his friends, his work, and his family. He exemplifies the role of a professional law enforcement officer. I am proud to have called him friend for more than twenty-five years.”

“What a privilege to join an elite group of recipients who have been awarded this honor,” Branch concluded.

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About the Author

Sandy Hatley

Sandy Chrisco Hatley is a free lance writer for several NC newspapers and Bluegrass Unlimited magazine. As a teenager, she picked banjo with an all girl band called the Happy Hollow String Band. Today, she plays dobro with her husband's band, the Hatley Family.