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Outgoing magistrates, judge bid farewell to county positions they’ve held for years

Outgoing Magistrate Jack Hendricks almost found himself in tears Wednesday morning. It was an emotional day for Boyle County Fiscal Court.

“I didn’t cry, but I almost did,” Hendricks said after the meeting.

Judge-Executive Harold McKinney used the gavel to call the lively court and crowd into session Wednesday, held on a special day just before a reception for parting members. He is also leaving, making room for Howard Hunt, judge-executive-elect.

“Nearly 11 years ago, I gaveled my first meeting into order with this gavel. It was made by my dad with lumber from Adair County Courthouse,” McKinney said. “I was proud to use it then, and proud now.”

After getting through a few orders of business, David Duttlinger with Bluegrass Area Development District spoke to thank McKinney for his years of service to the regional organization. McKinney worked with BGADD for all 11 years he has been judge.

“When he got involved … he brought a lot of benefit to Boyle County,” Duttlinger said, and added he had a five-page list of all the projects McKinney had been involved with.

“A number of things, from homeland security to water systems, wastewater, airport, transportation, economic development, land use planning … More importantly, be brought regional leadership to the 17 counties that we work together with,” Duttlinger said.

Due to the judge’s involvement, he said collaboration and partnerships within the organization increased.

“I think the reason why he was so successful … is that he understands the difference between equality and equity,” Duttingler said. He said that’s the difference between everyone getting the same amount of everything, or “saying, ‘You know what? Maybe you need to go first on this project because we can wait a little longer.’”

He said McKinney’s leadership and servanthood made the entire region better, “and Boyle prospered from that.” Duttlinger summed McKinney up in two words: Moral courage.

“It’s rare to find someone who possesses both those … he has the rare combination of both,” Duttlinger said, and McKinney received a round of applause.

Outgoing Magistrate Donnie Coffman thanked citizens for “letting me be here for 16 years,” and said he was glad he’d been able to serve for people of Boyle.

“I appreciate it,” Coffman said, choking back tears. “I have five magistrates here that I love dearly …”

Outgoing Magistrate Patty Burke echoed that sentiment, and the emotion. She said she’s been on the court for eight years. “These magistrates, they’re my friends. We have a great judge, a wonderful treasurer … We’re blessed.”

“I about missed my girl over there,” Coffman said, in reference to Treasurer Mary Conley. “She’s the finest treasurer in the whole state of Kentucky.”

McKinney interjected, “Nobody would argue that.”

Hendricks joked that he would take some of Magistrate John Caywood’s time because, “he doesn’t need it. He’ll be back in January,” creating some humor in the moment.

“I was honored the last eight years to work for the citizens of Boyle County and to work with the finest group of magistrates,” Hendricks said, and went further to mention Conley, County Engineer Duane Campbell, Jailer Barry Harmon and others.

“We have such leadership here and the best people you could ever ask to work with,” Hendricks said.

Leaders may have “knocked heads” a few times, Hendricks said. But “that’s OK. If you don’t, you’re not doing your job.”

He asked the incoming court to please keep in mind the $1 an hour raise he and others have been pushing for jail employees.

“They deserve the money … Maybe the new court can work with that. All of the people out there deserve a raise — they’ve kept us out of more trouble over the last few years.”

He wished the incoming judge and magistrates good luck, but wanted to give them a reminder.

“You’re representing 29,000 people. Not a party affiliation … Represent our Boyle County people like we’ve tried to do. And remember — there’s 29,000 of them.”

He pointed to the ongoing work with the Boyle County Detention Center — four years’ worth, he said.

“I would recommend, if you’re going to look at building, build a new one. Don’t try to fix this one,” Hendricks said. He said it’s a “tough decision, but has to be done. It’s probably the biggest issue you’ll face this year. And you represent all of us, now, too.”

Outgoing Magistrate Dickie Mayes said he’s been on the court for seven years and four months, and “I’ve appreciated working with the court and representing the people of western Boyle County.”

Caywood said he had enjoyed working with everyone. “We’ve had a very good court, a good working relationship, and I’m honored to have served 21 years and will be breaking in another new judge. This is the fourth judge I’ve had the opportunity to work with, and I’m looking forward to that.”

Magistrate Phil Sammons said he and Caywood were the “lone ducks here, working with a brand new court,” and told McKinney, “I love you like a brother.”

Jailer Harmon, who is also retiring at the end of the year, also gave an emotional speech, explaining the great honor and pleasure he’s had serving the people. He thanked the hardworking members of the Joint Jail Committee and the many employees of the detention center. Like many others, he also specifically thanked Treasurer Conley for all her help over the years.

“She has always been there, anytime I’ve called her, and I get an answer back. I love you like a sister … I’m not going to cry …” he said, choking on tears.

“I love you like a brother, Barry,” Conley said.

Harmon said he got sad when he walked through the doors of the jail Wednesday morning. “I said not too many more times I’ll walk through this door. Then, after 15 minutes, I was glad I was leaving,” he joked, saying he had a “sad and glad heart,” and tendered his resignation to the court, which McKinney accepted “reluctantly.”

Former Judge-Executive Tony Wilder, who served before McKinney, told the group, “Don’t take it for granted. And don’t ever forget what you have contributed to make this a better community.”

SO YOU KNOW

• Boyle County Fiscal Court appointed incoming magistrates to various committees. They are Ronnie Short and Tom Ellis on personnel; Jamey Gay and Jason Cullen on audit/finance/insurance; Phil Sammons and Jason Cullen on public works; Jamey Gay and Ronnie Short on solid waste; John Caywood and Tom Ellis on detention center; and John Caywood and Tom Ellis on EMS/sheriff.

• Usually held the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month, Magistrate Jack Hendricks said by request of incoming Judge-Executive Howard Hunt, who gets sworn in on Jan. 10, the first regular meeting of 2019 will be 10 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 15 — a week later than normally held.