RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — A longtime North Carolina state employee has chosen to retire instead of lowering flags to honor former Republican Sen. Jesse Helms.

U.S. and state flags have been flying at half-staff since Gov. Mike Easley ordered them lowered after Helms died Friday.

L.F. Eason III, 51, told his staff at the state Standards Laboratory to ignore the directive. The News & Observer of Raleigh reports that Eason sent workers an e-mail saying he didn't think it was appropriate to lower the flags because of Helms' "doctrine of negativity, hate and prejudice."