Chris Villines brings a life-long passion of public service in county government to the AAC executive director position. He was named the seventh executive director of the association in April 2010. Chris was named as one of Ten Outstanding Young Arkansans by the Jaycees in 1998 and later that year was elected to the position of Saline County Collector. He served as collector for 11 years until his selection by the AAC Board of Directors in April 2010.
Chris and Tonya have been married 19 years and will celebrate their 20th anniversary this May. They live in Saline County with their two children — Trevor, 14 and Ali Grace, 9. Tonya is the Junior Achievement Education Program Manager.
Villines also developed a “big picture” view from his active role as president of the Collectors’ Association. Leading the Collectors’ Association for several years was itself an intensive training ground from his active role working with the Legislature.
“The AAC’s role is to help make each county official the best county official they can be, to give them the tools necessary to do that,” Chris said in a summer 2010 County Lines article.
He was born in Harrison, but his family moved to Benton before his first birthday. His dad owned a title company in Benton, and Chris, a self-proclaimed “courthouse rat,” grew up working for him. Chris earned a degree in finance at University of Arkansas and studying a year of law school, he then went to work for a company doing site acquisition for cellular towers. He did the site acquisition work from 1993-98, when Saline County voters chose their new 28-year-old collector.
Chris Villines … Point by Point
Wes Fowler served 10 years as Madison County Clerk (1987-97), which led to a12-year tenure as County Judge. Prior to joining the Association of Arkansas Counties as Government Relations Director in January 2011, Wes was a custom builder and licensed residential contractor. He also had poultry houses, and is a principal owner of a Huntsville golf course.
Wes serves as a first point of contact for Clerks, Judges, and Justices of the Peace – via both phone calls and in traveling around the state. During a legislative session he can be seen daily at the Capitol, monitoring committee meetings, and often testifying for or against bills of interest to county government. He served as legislative chair and in officer positions in the County Clerks Association, and was in line for association president when he was elected as County Judge in 1998.
Likewise active in the County Judges Association of Arkansas, Fowler served as legislative chair, 1st and 2nd vice-president, then president; he also served on the AAC Board of Directors, and as AAC legislative chair. Along with all those “official” duties, he found time to serve as president and vice-president of numerous civic and other organizations closer to home. He recently represented county government as a member of the Blue Ribbon Commission on Highways.
Wes and wife Rose have three daughters and a step-son and six grandchildren, all of whom live in the Huntsville area.
JEFF SIKES serves as Legislative Director for the Association of Arkansas Counties. In addition he is the staff contact for the Arkansas County Clerks’ Association, the Arkansas Circuit Clerks’ Association, and the Arkansas County Treasurers’ Association. Jeff originally began his employment with AAC in November of 1990 serving as Administrative Assistant and, later, Staff Attorney, until December 1999 when he entered private practice. While in private practice Jeff continued to work with the Association as a contract lobbyist. In addition Jeff represented several counties as civil attorney, worked as a trial public defender and engaged in the general practice of law until July of 2007. In July of 2007 Jeff returned to work for AAC as its Legislative Director and has, since, been engaged in working with the AAC Legislative Committee to update AAC’s general legislative procedure as well as encouraging more active participation on the part of the AAC’s general membership. Jeff holds a Bachelor of Arts in History from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock as well as Juris Doctorate from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock School of Law (now the William H. Bowen School of Law). A lifelong native of Arkansas from Little River County Jeff has been in and around Arkansas county government most of his life. Jeff is the grandson of former Little River County Judge Ray Sikes. Judge Sikes along with Mississippi County Judge, Shug Banks, Marion Crank and the County Judges Association of Arkansas were pioneers in the establishment of the Association of Arkansas Counties. Jeff and his wife Lynda live in Little Rock.
Mark Whitmore has over 15 years of experience in litigation as an attorney in Arkansas. Mark served the Arkansas State Highway Commission for 13 years as Claims Attorney & Staff Attorney representing the Highway Department and its officers and employees in regard to personnel matters before the courts of the United States, and in hundreds of contract claims, tort claims and eminent domain cases. Mark earned his Juris Doctor in 1987 from the University of Arkansas School of Law at Little Rock. After obtaining his license to practice law in Arkansas in 1987, Mark served as an associate in the firm of Kemp & Duckett as a general civil lawyer and served as Special Master & Law Clerk for the Chancery Court of Pulaski County, First Division. Mark is originally from North Little Rock and graduated from Northeast High School. Mark attended and received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Ouachita Baptist University in 1984.
Jeanne began working at the Association of Arkansas Counties in 1982. Since that time, she has been in many of the different divisions of AAC and became Executive Secretary to the Director in August 1988 and Executive Assistant in January 2003. In addition to assisting the AAC Director, Jeanne is the AAC Conference Coordinator.
Jeanne and her husband Paul live in Conway and have four children and six grandchildren.
Cindy Posey is the Accountant for the Association of Arkansas Counties. After graduating from Russellville High School in 1979, she attended the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, graduating in 1983 with a degree in Accounting & Data Processing.
After graduation, Cindy worked as an accountant for Dillard’s Department Stores for five years until the birth of her first child. In 1993, she returned to the workforce as the Network Administrator for a large Little Rock church. After the birth of her second child in 1996, she took another five year break from fulltime employment to stay home with the children. From 2001 to 2003, she worked part time as the assistant to the Human Resources Director for CARTI, Inc. in Little Rock and again returned home to stay with the children. In 2007, she returned to the workplace as a Financial Analyst for Windstream Communications.
Cindy joined the staff at AAC in August of 2009. She and her husband, Carroll, live in Benton. They have two children – Celeste who is a senior at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, and Grant who is in the 8th grade at Benton Junior High School.
Scott Perkins joined the association October 2011. Perkins, former publisher of The Paragould Daily Press, has worked in Arkansas daily newspapers for 10 years, including editor positions in Russellville and Stuttgart. Scott is an award-winning journalist, with awards from APME and the Arkansas Press Association that range from editorial to feature writing and from column writing to promotion of newspaper. He is originally from Cabot, Ar., and attended Arkansas State University school of communications. He is married to his wife, Misty, and they have a 7-year-old son. He is an avid golfer and enjoys biking, camping and fishing with the family. His favorite sports teams are the Razorbacks, Cardinals and the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Becky Comet of Benton joined the Association of Arkansas Counties in June 2012 as its member benefits manager.
Becky is originally from Belleville, Illinois, where she graduated from high school in 1978. She earned a degree in Elementary and Special Education in 1981, from Eastern Illinois University. Becky moved to Arkansas in 1982 to start her teaching career. She met J.C. Comet, while they were both teaching at Fuller Jr. High School. J.C. and Becky were married in 1983 and have four children and one granddaughter.
Becky taught Special Education students as well as seventh grade math for 28 years. She taught Arkansas children in Little Rock, Blytheville, Gosnell, and Benton, finishing her teaching career at Benton Middle School. In 2011, she was a finalist on the show “The Biggest Loser”. It was through this opportunity that she lost 88 pounds and learned how to live a healthy lifestyle. Becky and her husband reside in Benton, where they continue to strive to live healthy and teach others to do the same.
Becky brings her many years of experience with people and advocating for both students and their parents to the member benefits area of the AAC. She will be an advocate for county government employees in many different areas.
Brenda Emerson is the Receptionist for AAC. She graduated from North Little Rock High School in 1967. Brenda worked in the credit department of Worthen Bank from 1970 until 1976. In June of 1976, Brenda was hired by the Federation of American Hospitals, a trade association that represents the privately-owned hospital industry. She worked at the Federation for the next 26 years, first as Receptionist, then Administration Assistant to the Director, promoted to Circulation Manager of Review Magazine and finally Manager of Meetings and Conventions. In January 2003, Brenda was hired as Receptionist for AAC. Her duties include answering the phone, greeting visitors and assisting with meetings. Since she was the third "Brenda" working at AAC, she was given the nickname "Emmy".
Debbie Norman is the Manager of AAC Risk Management Services. She graduated from Sylvan Hills High School in North Little Rock in 1978. She began working part-time for Telcoe Federal Credit Union at the age of 15 through the DECA program at Sylvan Hills. She worked at the Credit Union for the next 15 years, first as clerical help, then computer operator, promoted to Accounting Supervisor and finally Vice President.
In July of 1990 Debbie was hired at Sedgwick James of AR, Inc. as a Inside Claims Adjuster handling medical only workers' compensation claims. She was later promoted to Senior Claims Specialist supervising all Inside Claims Adjusters and promoted once again to Senior Administrative Assistant to the Claims Manager. As Senior Administrative Assistant she worked with 5 large Self-Insured Workers' Compensation Trust Groups which included the AAC Workers' Compensation Trust.
In April 1998 Debbie was hired as Administrative Assistant for AAC Risk Management Services. Her job duties consisted of taking care of additions and deletions to vehicle schedules for those members that participate in the AAC Auto Program, daily changes to property schedules for those members that participate in the AAC Property Program, all Risk Management Fund renewals as well as claims adjuster for all Risk Management Fund auto claims. In February 2001, Debbie was promoted to Manager of AAC Risk Management Services.
Debbie Norman can be reached directly at 375-8247.
Debbie Lakey is a claims examiner for AAC Risk Management Services. She has been in workers’ compensation since 1994. Prior to joining the AAC team she worked for Crawford and Company. Debbie and her husband, Lonnie, live in Conway and have 2 children.
Cathy Perry is an Administrative Assistant with AAC Risk Management Services. Since joining AAC in January of 2001, she has worked in several different areas. Starting out as receptionist, she than began working with Workers’ Compensation claims and then on to Auto Claims. She is now a licensed insurance agent in all lines of business. Her job duties consist of taking care of the many endorsements to vehicle and property schedules for those members that participate in the AAC Programs, processing the Risk Management Fund renewals, and the many other duties that come along in a days work.
Kim was born in Wiesbaden Germany where she spent eleven years of her life. She graduated from Cabot High School in 1995 and from the University of Central Arkansas in December of 1999 with a Bachelors Degree in General Business with an emphasis in Management.
Cindy Calvert came to AAC Risk Management in December, 2007 as an administrative assistant working in auto claims. She has been in the claims industry for fifteen years and is state licensed to adjust property, casualty and worker’s compensation claims. Cindy obtained an AIC designation through the Insurance Institute of America in 2002. Prior to joining AAC, she worked in the Safety Department of a privately owned company in North Little Rock as a Claims Adjuster. Cindy also worked for a Third Party Administrator as a Senior Claims Representative primarily adjusting property and casualty claims for self-insured public entities.
Barry Burkett started at the Association of Arkansas Counties Risk Management Services in 2006. He has an extensive background in business and loss prevention. Barry previously worked in loss prevention with Wal-Mart for 14 years. After that he dedicated himself to going "back to school" to finish his college degree – a Bachelor of Business Administration in Insurance and Risk Management from the University of Central Arkansas. Barry and his wife Dianne live in Searcy; they have a daughter, Jennifer.
Elizabeth Sullivan joined the AAC as receptionist in July 2011.
“This is the first job I have ever had where I actually look forward to Mondays. I work with wonderful people,” Sullivan said when asked to sum up her thoughts about her job. Her hobbies include playing with her baby girl Emersyn, photography and scrapbooking, watching football and listening to music. Born in Kansas City, Mo., she said she plans to return to school in the fall.
The Association of Arkansas Counties hosted its annual safety conference May 16 in Little Rock. Counties from across the state were represented.
The Arkansas Sheriffs' Association held its winter convention Jan. 23-25 at the Wyndham Riverfront Hotel in North Little Rock.
Jackson County courthouse shines bright in Newport, Arkansas.