For a few hours Thursday, Feb. 28, LaRue County had two sheriffs.
Former Sheriff Merle Edlin was sworn in as interim sheriff about 2 p.m. LaRue County Sheriff Bobby Shoffner turned in his resignation to LaRue County Judge/executive Tommy Turner about an hour later. The resignation was effective 11:59 p.m. Feb. 28.
Shoffner was in a pensive mood as he spent the last hours in his office Thursday afternoon. He avoided public discussion of his resignation last week, not returning phone calls or answering messages.
He’s had serious health issues and his doctor has advised him to focus on getting better, he said.
He’s not sure what the future holds.
“I may try construction again,” he said.
He smiled when he said he looks forward to spending time with his granddaughter Ryleigh.
His deputies had a small retirement party for him Wednesday. Ironically, it was interrupted when Bank of Buffalo was robbed and some of the officers left the celebration to join the investigation.
Shoffner was midway through his third term. He was elected first in 2002 after Edlin retired. He was challenged by now-Mayor Terry Cruse in 2006 and 2010 primaries. He won his last election handily over Republican candidate Jack Smith.
Cruse has said he plans to run for sheriff in 2014.
Shoffner announced his intention to retire to his employees on Feb. 20.
His letter in part reads: “It has been a tremendous honor to serve the citizens of LaRue County and a pleasure to work with the public officials in LaRue County and my heart will always contain warmth for the great people of LaRue County and the great individuals I have worked with through the years.”
Turner administered the oath of office to Edlin in the fiscal courtroom in front of Edlin’s family, long-time friend Rob Foster and Cruse.
Edlin took over duties Friday morning, calling a meeting with deputies.
The deputies said they learned of Edlin’s swearing-in after Thursday’s ceremony.
Edlin, who was first elected in 1986, said in a press release he would not be a candidate or “actively participate in the election for the full-time position of sheriff.” The current deputies will be retained.
“My duty is simple – to ensure the office operates to its fullest capacity in the field of law enforcement and financial management in the handling of state, school and county tax dollars,” Edlin said. “Upon the decision of the voters of LaRue County, my goal is to turn over a successful and efficient operation to the citizen’s choice of a full-time sheriff.”
Edlin said he was 28 when he began working in law enforcement. It was his life for 21 years.
During the last 10 years, he returned to the family’s trucking business and made an unsuccessful run at state representative.
He also took on a new role as grandfather.
Now, he’s looking forward to putting on the badge again.
“It’s not foreign to me,” he said. “I know a lot of things have changed but it’s nothing I can’t catch up with. I feel quite at home doing this.”
Edlin and his wife Judy have four children – Jamie, Angela, Stacey and Jay – and three granddaughters with another grandchild on the way.
A new sheriff will take over immediately after the Nov. 4, 2014, election, Turner said. The race will be decided at the same time of the General Election but will be considered a special election.
“The difference is that once the “special election” is over the sheriff assumes office immediately rather than waiting until January.”
According to Kentucky law, the county appoints a replacement in the case of early retirement of resignation of an elected official.
Turner said this is one of the “busiest times of the year for the sheriff due to closeout of tax collections, tax settlements with the state, school and county and preparation for tax bill sales.” Edlin, he said, will be able to “step right in to the position until a sheriff is elected.”
Edlin is already fully vested in the sheriff’s hazardous duty retirement system, so the county will not have to pay into that system on his behalf – a savings of about $22,000.
Shoffner’s letter of resignation and the press release announcing Edlin’s selection as interim sheriff are available as attachments to this story.