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“It’s been quite a ride!”
Outgoing Trimble County Judge-Executive Randy Stevens reflected Monday on a decade of service as the county’s chief executive. Today is Stevens’ last day on the job as he prepares to begin a new chapter in his life of employment in two weeks in Frankfort.
“There’s been every occurrence of emotion from deliriously funny stuff to ludicrous, crazy ideas and proposals from different entities and people to some of the most sorrowful and tragic events, life-changing and family-changing events,” Stevens said.
Stevens, who was first elected to the post in 2000, had announced his resignation to the members of Trimble Fiscal Court in June saying he had accepted the position of Executive Director of the Kentucky Council of Area Development Districts. Stevens’s resignation will be effective on Wednesday, Aug. 15. Stevens presided over his final meeting of Trimble County Fiscal Court on Monday, July 16.
“I’ve done a lot of reflecting ever since the last election,” he said. “The last election cycle and process wasn’t exactly the most enjoyable experience. There have been things going on in my life that certainly detracted. You couple that with a campaign season that was turned pretty negative by some people and that convinced me I really didn’t look forward to any more election cycles.”
Stevens had his eye on several employment opportunities and when an opening presented itself in Frankfort he decided to apply. When offered the job he initially turned it down.
“They came back to me about three weeks later,” he said, “and they were insistent that I take the job. After talking to them a second time I decided to go ahead and make that leap of faith.”
Stevens was employed at Dow Corning for nearly 13 years prior to being sworn in as judge-executive. The first five years was in production, the remainder was in maintenance. He had a bachelors degree in business from Eastern Kentucky University and was casting about for ways “to put that degree to work and it appeared that I had a better opportunity at winning an election than using that degree at Dow Corning. They tend to promote engineers rather than people with a bachelors in business.”
Early on he was influenced as a child by a neighbor—the late Trimble County Judge-Executive Clyde “Jack” Greenwood—“and that probably as a youth was what me interested in watching local government. I used to mow his grass when I was a kid. He wasn’t only the county judge he was the editor of the newspaper.”
For a couple of election cycles prior to his initial campaign for the judge-executive’s office Stevens watched the developments in local government closely. He thought of running for magistrate but said those races were always crowded with a lot of candidates.
“I thought local government at the time could use a change in direction and a change in philosophy to be more inclusive,” he said. “After taking a look at it and being aware of a lot of the controversies that were going on at the time I felt that running for the full-time job of judge-executive would be more attractive to me and certainly a more winnable race. I’m extremely thankful to this community for allowing me to continue through a couple more elections.”
Early on one of his first accomplishments “was to run off some of the land company-style developers who left you with infrastructure that wouldn’t support the development that they had prospered on,” he said. “We’re glad not to have to deal with those folks anymore. We’ve seen an unprecedented amount of growth at the county park and we’ve been proud to support the county park and the youth.
“Then here at the end there’s no doubt there’s a project going on down in Milton that I’m really, really proud of,” Stevens said of the Milton-Madison Bridge replacement project. “I’m not such a proud person that can say that was something I’ve done. I definitely carried the water on trying to build some enthusiasm and backing that project.”
Stevens said he was pleased about the way the bridge came together as a bipartisan effort.
“We’ve worked with Democrat and Republican presidential administrations, Democrat and Republican governors on both sides of the river, Democrat and Republican congressional representation here and on that side of the river,” he said. “It’s just been a fine example on how things should be approached. We tried not to micromanage as far as style, location and let the experts do their work and they came up with what is hopefully a successful solution.”
He said the responsibilities associated with judge-executive’s role in county government “has been a tough environment to work in. I’ve had a lot of changes in my life since serving the public,” he said adding that the job likely was a contributor to some of those changes. “It’s not an easy job. It takes a toll on you if you put your heart into it. But by and large it’s been an enjoyable process.”
Stevens said he is content to let “history and time and let your community be the judge of whether you’ve done a good job or not. No matter how hard we work and how much confidence we have in ourselves and in our abilities, sometimes change is good for a community. I’m sure someone with renewed energy and some fresh ideas certainly wouldn’t be bad for the community. Hopefully, we’ve left a foundation that they can build off of that has provided solid footing to have a continued growth county that is not growing in a way that is detrimental. I do believe that to everything there is a season.”