Appointments of local officials get the town talking
ELIZABETHTOWN, Ill. — The recent appointment of two county officials in Hardin County, Illinois has some folks in the community pointing fingers, saying the process wasn't fair.
But now others at the center of the controversy are speaking out, saying previous reports from other media sources didn't tell the whole truth.
In a place this quiet, any news can get the whole town talking.
"I hate that it's caused any kind of unrest," said Melissa Presser, future Hardin County state's attorney.
Wednesday, Presser was appointed state's attorney by the county board chairman, since the previous state's attorney resigned.
"The controversy of me being appointed was a surprise," said Presser.
Presser is from Hardin County but is running in the November election to be state's attorney in Pope County.
"The current state's attorney here, Roger Ralph, contacted me and said it was his intention to resign and asked me if I would be interested in coming in and working with him," Presser said. "He had recommended me for the appointment for his office."
Presser said she spent nearly four years working for the state and started training in the Hardin County state's attorney's office in February.
But not everyone agrees with her appointment.
"They had meetings and this decision was made before the primary," said Dennis Austin, Hardin County Democratic Party chair. "Nobody was told about it until after the primary."
Austin believes Presser's appointment isn't fair. He said their candidate, Dan Cockrum, who's a lawyer from Franklin County, should have gotten the job.
"It's deceitful and it stinks to high heaven," said Austin.
County Board Chair Wayne Eichorn made that appointment. He was also charged with picking a new sheriff after Lloyd Cullison died earlier this year.
Eichorn chose Cullison's wife Joyce.
Chief Deputy Tom Maynor was the man in line for that job.
"I live in Saline County," Maynor said. "I don't qualify to be sheriff here, even if I wanted to be."
Former Sheriff Cullison wrote a letter last year explaining his wishes for Maynor to take over. But the letter was never filed with the clerk.
"That would require me to move down here and my family's set in Saline County," Maynor said.
Maynor said he didn't want the job anyway.
So, call it what you will: a bit of excitement in this small town or politics as usual.
"It's unfortunate that this has upset anyone but this was a job opportunity for me," said Presser.
The new sheriff and state's attorney will officially start their jobs on Monday. They will only hold the positions a few months until a special election is held in November.
We left a message for county board chair Wayne Eichorn Thursday but it was not returned.
The man running for State's Attorney in Hardin County on the Democratic ticket, Dan Cockrum, told Local 6 he was surprised he wasn't appointed. Cockrum said he'll focus his energy on November's election.