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Pictured are (front row, from left) Trina and Ronnie Jones; (back row, from left) Megan, daughter; Jeremy, son; Tyler, son-in-law; who is married to Whitney, daughter. The Jones hike to the top of Sugarloaf Mountain every Memorial Day to enjoy the beauty of Van Buren County.

Jones balances work, family, community

By Scott Perkins County Lines Editor

We worked in the fields during the summer and helped dad cut wood in the fall,” Jones said. “We didn’t have much growing up but we were always thankful for what we did have. My Granny Page taught me ‘to always work hard and do your best at everything you do.’” Jones lost her grandmother when she was only 15 years old in an automobile accident. “She was a true lady and a very hard worker,” Jones said. “She made all of her own clothes and grew and raised her own food. I can remem- ber when I was about 12 years old picking ‘Tommy Toes,’ strawberries and potatoes. Granny Page would pull a quarter out of her change purse for me every time I weeded her flower bed.” Jones said she is most proud of her faith, her family and her work family “in that order.” “I have been very blessed to have a loving family not only at home but at work as well,” Jones said. “I have always tried to treat others the way I want to be treated. If we all remembered that one thing then this world would be a better place for every one.” Career journey — “I never thought of myself as a politician.” In high school Jones worked for the Van Buren Sheriff and Collector


Gus Anglin. “I loved it. Working in the courthouse was exciting. Tere was always something going on … But never in a million years would I have thought I would ever be an elected official. To me, that would have been such an honor and I thought it was way out of my reach.” In 1995, Jones began a five-year working relationship with Collector

Lisa Nunley. Nunley was the first elected collector in Van Buren County after the county made the decision to separate the sheriff and collector positions.

While not straying far from the inner workings of the county, Jones 36

rina Jones, who is in her third term as Van Buren County Assessor, was born and raised in the county she serves today. “Hard work was a way of life for my family growing up.

accepted a position in the appraisal department for Assessor C.L. Mackey in 2000. In 2003, Jones started the first mapping program in Van Buren

County. “We had never had anything computerized. We only drew out our

legal by hand or on deed plotter but no aerial views. It was amazing to see the faces of our taxpayers when they came in and I could show them on the computer where their houses and land was,” Jones recalled. “Coming to work every day mapping was like getting to put a puzzle together and getting paid to do it. I loved it.” Jones said she would still be mapping if Mackey hadn’t retired in 2006. Mackey was the longest serving county official in Van Buren county at 28 years of service, and his retirement left a void in the asses- sor’s office. Tat void allowed Jones to make a decision to step into the world of elected service. “I’m terrified to speak in public. I really had to come out of my com-

fort zone to run for office,” Jones said. “Being able to walk up to a total stranger and ask for their vote was a major accomplishment for me.” Jones emerged victorious in 2006 as Van Buren County’s Assessor and

has served in that position for six years; however, she has worked for the county for almost 18 years. “I love this work and my county and I wouldn’t want to live anywhere

else,” Jones said. “Te people here are part of my family and a lot of them are. I am so grateful that all of our county officials work so well together. Our county has a great group of county officials who are all dedicated to making our county run as efficiently as we can.” When asked what has held her interest in county government for all

these years she said, “Te work is interesting all in all and it’s a good job. I enjoy the assessment process and going to the gas wells. You know if it wasn’t for the natural gas industry, there would be no jobs in our county.”

Te natural gas industry has had an explosive impact on Van Buren

County, its residents and their quality of life. In 2005, Van Buren County assessed about 6,000 parcels with non-

producing mineral values at $375,150. Tat was before any natural gas exploration had begun in the county. In 2012, the county assessed


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