AAC County Lines

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 501.372.7550.

Executive Director / Publisher Chris Villines

Communications Director/ Managing Editor Christy L. Smith

Communications Coordinator/ Editor

Holland Doran AAC Executive Board:

Jeanne Andrews Debra Buckner Kevin Cleghorn Debbie Cross Ellen Foote

Gerone Hobbs

John Montgomery David Thompson

Judy Beth Hutcherson – President Debbie Wise – Vice President Brandon Ellison – Secretary-Treasurer Sherry Bell

Sandra Cawyer Rhonda Cole

Brenda DeShields Jimmy Hart

Bill Hollenbeck Heather Stevens

National Association of Counties (NACo) Board Affiliations

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

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

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

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 Committee. He is the Pulaski County Judge.

Gerone Hobbs: Membership Committee. He is the Pulaski County Coroner.

Kade Holliday: Arts and Culture Committee and International Economic Development Task Force. He is the Craighead County Clerk.


are well respected by our constituents and have been placed on a platform with advantage.


You effectively use this platform to discuss your positions and priorities in local government. One of the barometers by which to gauge our effectiveness is our interaction with the Legislature. We educate our representatives and senators about what we do and why certain laws need or need not be changed. At this, we are skilled and competent. Shared victories at the Capitol are numerous, and we don’t lack war stories about how damaging certain losses would have been. Nor are we at a loss to proclaim many victories in legislation that help us modernize and make more efficient our level of government.

But it is not lost on me that where we have the most potential for impact is in our communities. Many of you live within just a mile or two of your court- house, but your sphere of influence includes thousands of people across hundreds of miles. Tis makes me think of comedian Steven Wright, and his comment, “Someone told me half of all car accidents happen within a mile of your house. So I moved.” But, I digress.

Tankfully you are all well planted in your homes and relationships. And as a

result of your leadership in your communities, many look to you for guidance, and they value your opinions. When you talk locally about what’s going on in govern- ment and society, you have people’s ears. More often than not, though, we tend to shed the limelight that goes along with lofty elected positions because county and district officials are generally a humble sort.

For a moment, though, think about the awesome potential you have to lead people around you. You are skilled at working with the press to communicate changes in your office and their impacts on society. County clerks talk about new voting equipment; justices of the peace talk about unfunded mandates; and sher- iffs talk about changes in the criminal law. Each of you has topics that are impor- tant to your office, and you find yourself thrust into communicative leadership to educate society.

Tis issue of County Lines is dedicated to something that one year ago we rarely talked about, much less thought about its impact on county government. But as the opioid epidemic has come to light, it has taught us that this is not only a prob- lem in Arkansas, but it could well be the leading cause of growth in financial cost to counties. It also could be the leading cause of societal decay in a state not used to being at the forefront in the war on drugs.

I remember well Nancy Reagan’s organized attack in the war on drugs in the ‘80s. Te phrase, “Just say no!” was everywhere. Public Service Announcements were ubiquitous, and schools ramped up drug abuse prevention to a level never seen before. Drugs in the ‘80s were a dirty, sordid prospect. Images of needles or cocaine were burned into society as a dangerous affront to the utopian America to >>>


Chris Villines AAC

Executive Director

DIRECTOR’S DESK Stepping up to our calling

e are an amazingly privileged group. Te 1,400-plus county and district officials the AAC represents have been given a collective opportunity to help shape our society. We

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