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Director’s DE S K


County Lines Magazine


County Lines is the official publication of the Association of Arkansas Counties. It is published quarterly. For advertising in- quiries, subscriptions or other information relating to the magazine, please contact Christy L. Smith at csmith@arcounties.org or 501.372.7550.


Executive Director / Publisher Chris Villines


Communications Director/ Managing Editor Christy L. Smith


AAC Executive Board:


Sherry Bell Ellen Foote


Brenda DeShields John Montgomery Rhonda Cole


David Thompson Angela Hill


Judy Beth Hutcherson – President Debbie Wise – Vice President Brandon Ellison – Secretary-Treasurer Debra Buckner Jeanne Andrews Jimmy Hart


Gerone Hobbs Sandra Cawyer Bill Hollenbeck Debbie Cross


National Association of Counties (NACo) Board Affiliations


Judy Beth Hutcherson: NACo board member. She is the Clark County Treasurer and president of the AAC Board of Directors.


Debbie Wise: NACo board member. She is the Randolph County Circuit Clerk, vice president of the AAC Board of Directors and chair of AAC’s Legislative Committee.


Ted Harden: Finance & Intergovernmental Affairs Steering Committee. He serves on the Jefferson County Quorum Court.


Kasey Summerville: Finance, Pensions & Intergov- ernmental Affairs Steering Committee. She is the Clark County Assessor.


David Hudson: Vice Chair of NACo’s Justice and Public Safety Steering Committee. He is the Sebastian County Judge and member of the Rural Action Caucus Steering Committee.


Barry Hyde: Justice and Public Safety Steering Com- mittee. He is the Pulaski County Judge.


» » » » » » » » » » » » » » » » » » » » » » » » » » » » » » » » » » » » » » »


Saying ‘good-bye’ to a dear friend


Wes Fowler had retired from the AAC and later rejoined us as a consultant, he was as big a part of this office as many who walk in the doors each day.


F


Te first day of February, like many other days during a legislative session, was spent planning and going over committee assignments. Wes, like always, was up to the task and ready to press county issues at the Capitol. It was clear early on that this session would keep Wes busy with a tire bill, Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality concerns and road funding. It was a chal- lenge I think he relished.


Wes also was ready to jump into more county clerk issues this session, with a


desire to educate wayward legislators on the ins and outs of elections — and a prag- matic ability to explain why things work the way they do. Many of you have had the opportunity to work alongside him at the Capitol, and all have walked away in awe of his ability to communicate our issues as counties. Little did we know that the next day we’d be picking up his flag and pushing on without him.


People in county government with his abilities are few and far between — and


unfortunately dwindling. First elected as the Madison County Clerk in 1989, Wes learned the job quickly … so quickly that he decided he ought to learn the rest of the jobs around the courthouse. Tis desire for knowledge, coupled with an ability to understand computers, catapulted Wes into the courthouse “Swiss army knife” role — and eventually into the Madison County judge’s office in 1998.


During his time as a clerk he was instrumental in developing motor-voter laws and early voting. He was actually invited to the House floor to give testimony to the full House at one point as a clerk, an honor and sign of respect not bestowed on many others.


I first met Wes in the early 2000s. He was heavily involved in the county judges’ association at that point, and he served on the AAC board of directors. He instantly earned my respect. We worked together through the years either on the AAC board or the AAC Legislative Committee, roles he took seriously and worked hard at.


So in 2010 when I became director at the AAC, I called Wes. I knew he would bring the perfect balance of experience and knowledge to our office and could help out with our judges and clerks. Little did I know he would quickly become one of my best friends. I have learned over time to value people who don’t always agree with me. None of us have the market cornered on being right all the time. I espe- cially value those who speak truth into my life. Proverbs 27:6 says, “Wounds from a sincere friend are better than many kisses from an enemy.” Wes was that sincere friend, and today I am a better man because of those wounds.


I learned new phrases from Wes that I still use today. I believe my all-time favorite sentence from Wes was, “I reckon we got a crapload of rain last night in Huntsville.” Or maybe it was the word “You-uns” when he was addressing two or more people.


Another thing I can tell you is that Wes could fix anything. I asked him early in >>> COUNTY LINES, WINTER 2017 7


Chris Villines AAC


Executive Director


or the third time in the last six years we mourn the untimely passing of an AAC as- sociate. It feels a bit awkward not using the word “employee” there because even though


Director’s Desk


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