Not too early to thank Stephenson

Published 10:16 am Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Let me introduce you to one of my favorite builders. And I’m not talking about brick and mortar, hammer and nails.

You probably already know Allen Stephenson.

When you get down to the nitty-gritty of community building, there aren’t many folks with dirtier hands.

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For 17 years, he’s held public office as Butler County’s circuit clerk. It’s a long chapter of civic service that officially comes to an end in January 2013. Stephenson announced earlier this year he wouldn’t seek re-election.

It’s at least a year too early to order punch and petit fours for the going away party, but it’s not a second too soon to start patting Stephenson on the back.

I bet he’s not had nearly enough of those. After all, like most all positions serving the public, circuit clerk is a generally thankless job.

But that’s not what motivates Stephenson and other good public servants. And it’s not the money either. Allen took a significant pay cut when he left the private sector for public office those 17 years ago.

It’s been tough work, especially recently. As the workload piled higher, his office was asked to get the job done with less and less funding.

He works hard for the public trust because he hears a call to serve. And Stephenson answers that call wearing many different hats.

Even if you never ran across him at the courthouse, you may recognize him from the pulpit. If men can stand in their communities as pillars of faith, Stephenson is certainly one of ours.

He pastors not one, but two churches — Mt. Pisgah Baptist and First Baptist Church of Georgiana. You might have read one of his many faith columns in The Greenville Advocate.

Come Friday night, there will be few pulling harder for the Greenville Tigers as they continue their run in the state playoffs. Stephenson is not only a fan of the football team. He’s a strong supporter of our public schools and their mission.

Stephenson’s retirement from public office could certainly be looked at as a loss for Butler County, but I’ve got a feeling his sleeves will continue to be rolled up as high as ever as he continues the hard and rewarding work to help build our community.