Wednesday, January 05, 2011

TOP STORY > >GOP gets to work in Lonoke County

Leader senior staff writer

Charlie Troutman, who lost his re-election bid as Lonoke County judge to Doug Erwin, let county workers off for the New Year last Wednesday.

By the time Erwin took over the office Monday, he had paneled the walls with wainscoting, moved the desk and was seeing to county business.

Erwin wouldn’t confirm that long-time JP Larry Odom was being replaced as head of the jail committee, but he did say, “there’s a possibility. There’s a new judge in Lonoke County.”

Odom, a Cabot-area Republican, has not seen eye-to-eye with other Republicans on the quorum court.

“I’ve tried to choose people that would want to be on committees,” said Erwin.

He will make his appointments at the reorganization meeting of the quorum court at 6:30 p.m. Thursday.

Erwin has made a few changes, hiring Rita Schmitz to fill an administrative vacancy in his office.

Pat Davidson is the new county road foreman, he said. “I’ve known him for 36 years. He’s honest, capable and has fresh ideas.”

He said Davidson has been a businessman, a consultant and has taught agriculture.

Darrell Tullos, Troutman’s road administrator and comptroller, has resigned and Erwin said his duties would be split among his office administrators and Davidson.

As for other personnel changes, Erwin said, “We want to give everybody a chance while we see who’s who and what’s what.”

Erwin said he would be county judge to all county residents, not just the Republicans. “I’m going to treat everyone the same. I’ve lived in the county all my life,” the 54-year-old said. “It may sound corny, but I love Lonoke County.”

He said the office would be his full-time job. He has worked in real estate for 25 years and as an auctioneer for 12 years.

“I’m excited about the job and look forward to the challenge.”

Denise Brown was receiving congratulations—and at least three bouquets—in her first day on the job as Lonoke County circuit clerk. While she had some familiarity with the duties from her years working in the prosecutor’s office, she says there are things she doesn’t know and doesn’t mind saying, “I don’t have a clue, but I’ll learn.”

She defeated Democrat incumbent Deborah Oglesby to win the office.

She’s filled four vacancies in the office.

She intends to expand the office’s presence on the Internet. “I have one of the tech guys coming to visit,” she said.

After she was sworn in Saturday, she came down to the office and started hanging family pictures.

Prosecutor Chuck Graham, another Republican swept into office for the first time, said, “I’ve come back home.” He worked as a deputy prosecutor for Lona McCastlain and Will Feland for eight years until leaving to go into private practice and to launch his campaign.

Graham, whose office is torn up for carpet replacement, dressed casually in street clothes.

Graham defeated Democrat Tim Blair.

Feland, the incumbent, was appointed by Gov. Mike Beebe after McCastlain left to move with her husband, a National Guard officer, to a post in Germany. As an appointee, Feland was not eligible to run.