End of an Era
Carroll County’s Tomlinson
ready to step out of the limelight
He retires this year after many years
in public service roles
CARROLLTON, Ky. (November 2014) – When Harold “Shorty” Tomlinson retires in December 2014, he will leave behind a long career in local government and many accomplishments of which he can be proud. In his role as Carroll County Judge Executive, he has witnessed many changes throughout the county, all aimed at making Carroll County a better place in which to live.
Harold “Shorty” Tomlinson is
pictured outside the Carroll
Courthouse earlier this year.
Tomlinson began his political career in the 1980s. While serving a term as magistrate in Worthville, people encouraged him to think about running for the position of mayor. He did and found that he enjoyed the job.
He went on to serve four terms as judge executive of Carroll County. He was defeated at the end of his first term by 31 votes and in 1994 took a job as park manager at Gen. Butler State Resort Park before running again for the position and winning.
In the role of judge executive, “you deal with a lot of things that are not popular,” said Tomlinson, soon to be 65. “In 1990, we were in financial distress and had no jail. We had the operating costs of a jail we didn’t have. We had city water in a lot of places, but there were still a lot of places that needed it.”
In time, a jail was built, which became self-supportive. The county no longer had to transfer inmates to other counties.
Between terms, Tomlinson spent eight years working for General Butler. “It was a good experience,” he said. “I met a lot of people across the state.”
While working there under then-Gov. Breraton Jones’ administration, he was able to acquire money for the park. Tomlinson acquired a $100 million bond issue for improvements to be made.
After leaving his job at the park, he resumed his tenure as judge executive and put a huge effort into improving the infrastructure of the county. “I saw a lot of road improvements and a number of bridges built under my administration,” he said.
Tomlinson also made great efforts to “bring industry in and work with existing industry.” Job creations came in the form of North American Stainless, which employs 1,400 people. Jobs are “a very important investment,” he said. “It has an impact on the whole region.”
He also worked to aid the volunteer fire departments because of their smaller budgets. In addition to working to give them $30,000 each year, he worked on many smaller city projects. “I tried to help the entire community.”
Education was also high on Tomlinson’s priority list. In October 1990, he succeeded in bringing Jefferson Community Technical College into the community.
The current campus has outgrown its facility in downtown Carrollton, and Tomlinson has been instrumental in the plans to get a larger facility built on Hwy. 227. A new campus is scheduled to be built on property that sits directly across from the entrance to General Butler. “It will be a 50,000 to 55,000 square foot facility on 30 acres,” said Tomlinson.
“The college is the big thing he will be remembered for,” said Carrollton Mayor Gene McMurry. “He’s worked hard on that, along with everyone else. He’s been on the college board ever since it was formed.”
McMurry has known Tomlinson ever since coming to the county in 1969. Although they may have had some “knock down, drag out fights” on the political scene when running against each other four times, McMurray said they still managed to maintain their friendship.
Something Tomlinson should be remembered for is the tax rate, said McMurray. “He maintained the tax rate and lowered it.” Tomlinson considerably lowered the property tax rate from 13.3 percent to 3.5 percent.
Veterans are another subject close to Tomlinson’s heart. He has strived to work closely with the local National Guard Armory unit in various capacities, and he aided in the creation of the veteran’s memorial at General Butler.
“I’ve tried to do a lot to help veterans and their families,” he said. “We have a lot of veterans in Carroll County.” He was instrumental in securing the V.A. Clinic, which serves the region, not just the county. “It’s easier to get here and not have to drive to a big city.”
Tomlinson also spent some time as president of the Carroll County Chamber of Commerce. Mark Smith of State Farm Insurance in Carrollton now holds that position and says he knows Tomlinson from having worked with “him on many different programs and projects through the Chamber. He’s always been supportive of the Chamber and what the Chamber is working on,” said Smith.
Smith said Tomlinson is a very community oriented person and “has shown through his actions his deep love and commitment for the county.”
Tomlinson has been a competent professional in his duties as judge, Smith said. “He has a unique gift which allows him to be able to discuss issues with a range of individuals; from farmers to business owners to company executives.”
Tomlinson said he feels he is “leaving our county in good financial condition. The next administration will continue to improve the country and the region.”
He said that the position of judge executive is “a job that’s very demanding.” He may have as many as three meetings in one night, but “I have truly enjoyed this position. I hope the community is in much better shape than in years back. I’ve worked with a lot of good people. I have no complaints.”
With his retirement looming in the near future, Tomlinson said he has had “several people talk to me about opportunities.” Although he will never say never to considering a job, he plans to spend more time with his children and grandchildren.
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