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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 inquiries, subscriptions or other informa- tion relating to the magazine, please con- tact Christy L. Smith or Scott Perkins at 501.372.7550.


Executive Director / Publisher Chris Villines


Communications Director/ Managing Editor Scott Perkins


Communications coordinator/ Editor


Christy L. Smith AAC Executive Board:


Judy Beth Hutcherson – President Debbie Wise – Vice President


Sherry Bell Cindy Walker


Andrea Billingsley John Montgomery Rhonda Cole


David Thompson Angela Hill


Joe Gillenwater – Secretary-Treasurer Debra Buckner Brandon Ellison Jimmy Hart


Patrick Moore 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.


COUNTY LINES, FALL 2015


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Lighting the flame within


tunities to be thankful, hopeful and reconnected during the season. Unfortunately pausing becomes more diffi- cult with the endless cycle of “senses overload” we almost involuntarily surround ourselves with.


T


he holidays seem to move much more quickly as we age, and time with family and friends becomes more cherished as we gain an appreciation for capturing these oppor-


Chris Villines AAC


Troughout 2015 I have found myself exhausted on occasion, emotionally drained in spells, exuberant from time to time and amazed by the distance between peaks and valleys of the year. As the year wanes, I recollect a deep gratitude to both my AAC and county family that can be summarized by the following quote from theologian Albert Schweitzer, “At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.”


Executive Director


Not unlike the “Footprints in the Sand” poem, I look back over the year and see many places where we as a county government family carried one another — be it through tough times or stages of hard work, or to lift each other on collective shoul- ders to celebrate the victories we’ve won. My light has definitely been rekindled at points by the hard work and resilience of the Arkansas county nation.


As for the AAC, the year seems to be closing with a couple of big sparks in the form of awards that must be shared with all of county government. I am extremely proud of the staff we have here and the work they all do for each of you. Te level of competence is incredible, and the importance they all place on taking care of all 75 counties is astounding. I have said it before, but it bears repeating that they are an extension of your staff at home … and though you don’t see them in action each day, you would be proud of them if you did.


Te other day my light was rekindled when I opened an e-mail forwarded to me


from Chief Counsel Mark Whitmore. It seems the hard work he and Judge Bran- don Ellison of Polk County have been doing on the Unpaved Road User Group has not gone unnoticed.


Teir perseverance through the legislative session and leading up to it helped


create one of the South’s first sustainable unpaved roads program. Tis program seeks to partner groups with a vested interest in the environment and sustainability through creation of a grant program to construct county (and other) roads in a manner that least disturbs our natural resources.


On Dec. 8, Mark and Judge Ellison were each presented with a Regional Direc-


tor’s Conservation Award from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Atlanta for their “extraordinary contributions to the conservation of natural resources in the Southeast Region.” Tis award is well deserved on both counts, as they have put in countless hours to build this program from the ground up. Kudos, gentlemen!


For a second honor, in the early fall I looked on my desk to see the Southern


Political Report Magazine, a publication with a footprint of 13 Southern states from Texas to Virginia. Tis particular issue had a “best of” theme, featuring the South’s top government affairs firms and lobbyists. In this list, five associations are listed as the best from each state, and your lobbying team at the Association of Arkansas


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Director’s Desk


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