Exiting officials deserve praise for their efforts to serve public

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My Views

By Thomas Barr

    There’s just a few days left before the calendar turns its next page.
    When January arrives, Bullitt County will lose some good public servants. This happens every election cycle.
    The names may change but their devotion to the community doesn’t.
    At the county level, Thomas Kappel will be leaving as coroner, an office he has served in since the early 1980s. It is a position that doesn’t get a lot of publicity    unless some really bad crimes occur.
    He has been once of those faithful servants to the community for many years.
    Another long-time official leaving office on Jan. 2 will be county attorney Walter Sholar. For the past 21 years, Sholar and his staff has been the chief prosecutors in district court and also served as legal adviser for fiscal court.
    There was many times over those 21 years that Sholar stopped fiscal court from making some very bad decisions. Most of the issues revolved around legal issues but some did involve policy matters.
    While incoming county attorney Monica Robinson has said she wouldn’t get involved in fiscal court policy, I expect there will be times that she will need to for the good of the county’s future.
    On fiscal court, Eddie Bleemel and David Walker will end 12 years of service, while Buddy Shepherd completes an eight-year stint as magistrate.
    For Bleemel and Walker, they took an incredibly dangerous leap a decade ago when they imposed the insurance premium tax. Since that time, the county has been able to build a detention center, remodel a courthouse and purchase much needed equipment.
    It was a bold step but one that was needed. Since that time, the county has remained afloat financially despite seven of the eight cities taking at least a portion of the money.
    Of course, in their final meeting, Shepherd made a motion to pass a resolution to do away with the insurance tax. It deadlocked 2-2 with County Judge Melanie Roberts abstaining due to a lack of information on the impact on services.
    The impact is simple - it would stifle county government and services would have to be cut.
    Donnie Tinnell will be leaving county government after one term as sheriff. He is no stranger to local law enforcement, having served as a Shepherdsville officer prior to heading to Jefferson County.
    He brought a lot more attention to the sheriff’s department and the improvements were very evident.
    On Monday, Danny Fackler will no longer be your jailer. Chief deputy Martha Knox will assume control of the keys on Jan. 3.
    While Fackler was a 24/7 campaigner, he also had a passion for the position. That is nice to see in elected officials.
In the municipalities, some elected officials will be leaving office.
    Shepherdsville mayor Sherman Tinnell is concluding his second stint in the office. He would be the first to admit that things definitely changed in city government from his first term in the mid-1990s.
    After a bit of a rocky start, Tinnell’s tenure will be remembered for the continued progress at the city park and the extension of a sewer line south to Highway 245. While Beam Distillery is the only current customer, the line will open up thousands of acres to development.
On the council, Tony Miller will be leaving after 16 years on the board.
    Tony has been able to work with a variety of mayors and councilmembers. He is a good-natured person who really doesn’t like to make anyone mad.
    He was recently recognized by fellow councilmembers and said it was a good ride. But he said it was time to give it up.
    Tony and his wife, Jana, have been so involved in their church and with the Fellowship of Concern. It was different this year when the Shepherdsville Lions Club and the Fellowship of Concern backed away from the Christmas basket program and let First Baptist Church of Shepherdsville take over.
    Thanks to Tony for his service and to Jana and Louise Armstrong for their long-time commitment to the Fellowship of Concern.
    Also leaving the Shepherdsville council will be Scott Ellis; however, he won’t be going far.             He moves up a couple of seats and takes over as mayor.
    In Hillview, Randall Hill will be leaving the council. Besides being a reliable councilman, Hill took a very brave step in passing the Sunday alcohol sales ordinance. This was despite the fact that a stepson had been killed in an alcohol-related accident. Randall definitely put the city’s interest ahead of his own personal beliefs.
    Harry Cooper will also be leaving the council. From the time he served as Santa during the Operation Santa activities years ago to his most current term, Cooper has been involved in the city.
    In Pioneer Village, Robert Hester will be stepping away from the council. Hester, although not always on the same side of the issue as others, brought valuable comments and insight to any discussion. He had the city’s best interest at heart.
    Fox Chase mayor Alice White will be stepping down but she won’t be stepping far. She will be a councilmember in January. William Broughton will become the newest mayor.
    Councilmember Lottie Judd will also be leaving the town board but we expect her presence to continue to felt at meetings.
    In Mount Washington, Gary Lawson, Dale Walter and Larry Porter will be stepping down as councilmembers. The men provided many valuable ideas for the others to consider. Some of the ideas were well worth the consideration. Outside-the-box thinking is always good.
    In Lebanon Junction, Wendy Parrish and Dion Collins will be leaving. Collins ran for the sheriff’s position and brought a new perspective to the council. Parrish was a veteran member of the council and also brought ideas to the table.
    Mike Alphin will be leaving after one term as constable in the Second District. From talking with law enforcement and fire officials, Alphin was ready to serve, as needed, which is exactly what that position entails.
    State Sen. Gary Tapp opted to not run for another term in Frankfort. Although Tapp lived in Shelby County and was responsible for three counties, he seemed to have a strong interest in helping Bullitt County. His work on things such as Jewish Hospital was important.
    Serving as an elected official is not an easy task. It takes a special person to put themselves out in front of the public. Their lives are under scrutiny. It is not an easy task.
    Tough decisions must be made. The next four years will continue to be difficult ones at both the city and county levels. Strong leadership will be needed.
    But before these folks leave office, we need to give them one more round of applause. While I often disagreed with their decisions, I never questioned their commitment to making Bullitt County a better place to live and to work.
    Good luck in your future endeavors and we’re sure a few of the faces will resurface in coming years.