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 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.


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

Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36  |  Page 37  |  Page 38  |  Page 39  |  Page 40  |  Page 41  |  Page 42  |  Page 43  |  Page 44  |  Page 45  |  Page 46  |  Page 47  |  Page 48  |  Page 49  |  Page 50  |  Page 51  |  Page 52