Friends, colleagues celebrate Howell#039;s career

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 14, 2005

A straight shooter Š a nice guy Š a quiet man with a long history of public service.

That was the way friends and colleagues described Lawrence County Treasurer Kenneth Howell Friday as they gathered for his retirement party.

Howell leaves the courthouse after 20 years in the corner office on the second floor. It has been 20 good years, in Howell's own words.

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"I'm going to miss it. I'm going to miss the four girls who have worked for me. We've had a good relationship. I like helping people. Anytime people come in and we can help them with their problem, I like that."

While Howell has been the county's treasurer for the last two decades, he made a name and reputation for himself long before that, as both a Hamilton Township trustee and in the nearly four decades he was assistant manager at the former Kresge's store.

"The first year I ran for office, Arley VanMeter was a trustee out in Aid and he said he would take me around and introduce me to people, so we went and people kept saying to me 'oh, we know you from Kresge's,'" Howell recalled with a smile. "Finally, Arley said 'I'm not going to take you anywhere else. Everyone already knows you from Kresge's.'"

Actually, it was a cup of coffee at Kresge's one day that precipitated his move to the courthouse.

"Judge (Richard) Walton came in one day and one afternoon we were having a cup of coffee and he said 'Kenny, the treasurer's office would be a good job for you.' That's where I got the idea."

Eleven times Lawrence countians have returned him to that post.

Howell said he appreciates that confidence.

His wife of 58 years, Jean Howell, said she had not wanted him to run for reelection last year.

After 20 years, it was time to say goodbye.

"I said 'we need time for us,'" she said. "It's going to be nice having him around. He's a good man."

The Howells have two daughters, three grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

Howell said he plans to travel a little and spend more time on the golf course.

As for his friends at the courthouse, they say Howell will be missed.

"I never really got to know him until he came to the courthouse in 1985," Lawrence County Auditor Ray Dutey said.

"We got the chance to work closely on the budget commission and board of revision and through the years I have gotten to know him well.

"All these years we've worked together I've never heard him say a bad word about anybody. If there isn't something good to say, he doesn't say it. I've found him to be such a good friend," Dutey said.

Howell's successor, Steven Burcham, was sworn in at a courthouse ceremony last week.