Monday, December 24, 2012

TOP STORY >> County officials get final goodbye

Leader staff writer

Between redistricting, retirement, advancement and simply being voted out of office, Lonoke County will lose 11 of its elected officials on Dec. 31, so County Judge Doug Erwin had certificates of appreciation for all of them during the quorum court meeting Thursday night.

JP Sonny Moery, who chose not to run after 10 years when redistricting placed him in opposition to JP Roger Lynch, got the only genuine standing ovation.

“If all the JPs were like Sonny Moery, we wouldn’t have any problems,” Erwin said.

JP Joe Farrer, whose close watch over the budget for the past two years has put him at odds with many, feigned surprise that no one would clap for him unless he asked. He got the only chuckle. Farrer is the new state representative for the new House Dist. 44.

“Joe was always been consistent,” Erwin said. “He’ll vote his conscience and stand his ground.”

JP Alexis Malham, who decided not to run for reelection, was at home with her husband, Cabot High School football coach Mike Malham. She was said to be recovering from shoulder surgery.

“The one thing you could say about Alexis: You didn’t have to wonder what she was thinking,” Erwin said. “That’s not a bad thing. That’s a good thing.”

JP Jannette Minton, also retiring, was also absent for the last meeting of the year for unknown reasons.

JP Barry Weathers decided not to run after he learned that if he did, it would be againsthis best friend, JP Tim Lemons. The two were on vacation together with their wives when they learned that redistricting would pit them against one another if both chose to run.

Justice of the Peace Claude Irvin was appointed to the position by Gov. Mike Beebe after JP Mark Edwards took a job out of state. Erwin said he had been an asset to the quorum court.

Retiring County Sheriff Jim Roberson couldn’t make it because his cows were out and he had to get them back in the fence.

Treasurer Karol DePriest, County Clerk Dawn Porterfield and Circuit Clerk Denise Brown were voted out of office. Erwin thanked them for their service.

Circuit Judge Phillip Whiteaker was elected to the Court of Appeals. Whiteaker was there for the entire meeting and listened to discussion about funding for the district courts located in cities across the county.

The quorum court has cut funding to most courts to half the salary of the judge and one clerk. Whiteaker joked that it had been said by some that he wasn’t much of a judge. But he wanted them to know that he wasn’t that half of a judge they had been talking about.

Longtime Coroner Sherry Stracener is retiring. She introduced Mark Thomas who ran unopposed as her replacement. Stracener promised that with Thomas on the job, no one would notice she was gone.

However JP Larry Odom said after all the presentations were over that the county would miss Stracener.

She was there when his dad died so he knew from experience how well she did her job.

“She’s been a dandy for the county. We’re going to miss her,” Odom said.