By JOSEPH HAMRICK
After 22 years of farming and 16 years as Precinct 1 Hunt County Commissioner, Kenneth Thornton decided it was tome to retire to his farm in Hickory Creek.
“I feel very honored to have worked here,” he said. “And I feel like it’s time to step down and have a few good years to enjoy my retirement.”
Thornton took office in January of 1997 and said it was a good change from farming.
“I gave up farming and was looking for a good career with good health benefits and a good retirement program,” he said. “A good friend of mine, Johnny Lyon, who served as commissioner for 20 years announced his retirement, and I though it would be a good career change.”
According to Thornton, he had not considered running until some friends urged him.
“It didn’t seem like something that I would want to do,” he said. “But I had some people ask if I would and I talked with Johnny to see what it was like and decided to run.”
Thornton said he got some good advice from his friend before he ran.
“Johnny told me ‘If you decide to run, do your best to win but be prepared to lose,’” Thornton said.
Developing a budget can be a trying experience, and Thornton said setting the budget every year was the most difficult part of his job.
“Developing the county budget every year has been tough,” he said. “We’ve been very successfull down the years though. This year by far is the most difficult budget. You don’t ever want to raise taxes, but sometimes it’s necessary to maintain the quality.”
Thornton helped to initiate trash clean ups in Wolfe City and Celeste, and helped to organize tire round ups in his precinct as well, which is something he said he wants to see continue.
“I rode the coattail of Celeste the first time we held the clean up,” he said. “I hope it’s something that down the road we can continue.”
According to Thornton, the job has been extremely rewarding.
“This job has brought me in touch with the best people in the world,” he said. “You’re not going to find any better people than here in Hunt County.”
Thornton said his road crews have been of the top quality.
“All three of my foremen I’ve had have been excellent,” he said. “I have had great leadership in my crews.”
Thornton said although he will miss working for the county, he is looking forward to retirement.
“I have been very very happy with the job,” he said. “I’m going to miss the job. But I’m going to enjoy spenging time with old time friends and new time friends that I’ve made working here.”