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Jerry Powell, who has served as Trimble County Clerk for nearly 23 years, was sworn in Friday afternoon as the new Trimble County Judge-Executive.
Powell, a 1965 Trimble County High School graduate, worked at the Bedford Loan & Deposit Bank for nearly 15 years before seeking the only elected office he has held. A 1974 Western Kentucky University graduate, Powell is also a U.S. Army veteran of the Vietnam War.
Speculation had centered on Powell as the successor to Randy Stevens, who resigned from the position to accept the position of Executive Director of the Kentucky Council of Area Development Districts. Stevens’s resignation was effective on Wednesday, Aug. 15. On the following day, the members of Trimble County Fiscal Court elected Magistrate Stephen Stark to serve as Interim Judge-Executive until Gov. Steve Beshear appointed Stevens’s successor.
Outgoing judge-executive Randy Stevens inquired of the governor’s office if they wanted local input regarding the appointment and was told the governor’s staff would be in touch if they decided to seek local input.
“That said to me that they knew of Mr. Powell and they indicated they thought there was a consensus that unless they detected a strong opposition they probably wouldn’t bother us with having meetings and making recommendations,” Stevens said. “Evidently, Mr. Powell’s 20-plus years of public service probably speaks for itself.”
Gov. Beshear signed Executive Order 2012-728 on Friday, Aug. 24, making the appointment official. Powell was sworn in as the new judge-executive shortly after 3 p.m. the same day by Chief Circuit Court Judge Karen A. Conrad.
The transition is the first of its kind in Trimble County, according to longtime observers. Never had a judge-executive resigned in the county’s history dating to 1836.
Powell’s appointment to the new post left a vacancy in the clerk’s office. Tina Browning, who has served as a Deputy Clerk in the Trimble County Clerk’s office for nearly 20 years, was sworn in as the new Trimble County Clerk succeeding Powell. Browning becomes the first woman to hold the post in Trimble’s history.
“Jerry was an excellent boss,” Browning said of Powell. “You could not work for any better person. He’s been so good to me over the years. He’s one of the most wonderful people I’ve ever met.”
Powell praised the staff he leaves behind at the clerk’s office, saying that all of the people employed in the various offices of the Trimble County Courthouse are like a big family.
He noted the presence of his predecessor, Randy Stevens, former Judge-Executive Jack Couch and State Representative Rick Rand among the attendees at the ceremony.
“All of them have been a big help to me,” he said. “Jack was the judge-executive when I was first elected clerk all those years ago. “Anything that I have accomplished has been because of the people that’s worked with me. You can’t do the job by yourself.”
Following Friday’s swearing in ceremony, Powell said he had considered running for the judge-executive’s office “eight or 10 years ago and chose not to. I was asked this time if I would be interested in it. To be honest, the first time I said no. I was asked again later and thought it over and talked to (his wife) Ann and said okay.”
Powell has no immediate plans for sweeping changes as the county’s chief executive.
“Right now all I plan to do is observe, watch and listen,” he said. “I don’t have an agenda going in to change anything or switch anything around. I just want to watch and observe and see how things operate in the county. It’s just going to take time for me to understand how the office works now and we’ll deal with things as they come up.”
Powell said he has “plenty of help in the judge’s office with the ladies that work in there. You’ve got four magistrates and Regina Rand as treasurer and so there are plenty of people to give me advice and help.”
The new judge-executive, who was born, raised and educated in Trimble County, acknowledged that although Trimble is a small county, “I’m really proud of the county. Trimble County offers a lot of good things.”