An overview of the 54th conference

By Debbie Wise
AAC Board President and Randolph County Circuit Clerk

Another successful AAC Annual Conference is in the books. I was pleased to see our attendance back up to about 850 this year, and I thought the theme — County Resilience: Riding the Waves of Change — was appropriate. We have seen much change in the last three years, but we also have proved our resilience in the face of new challenges — and overcoming challenges makes us stronger in the end.

Those who attended were able to hear from many distinguished speakers: Congressman Bruce Westerman; NACo 1st Vice President Mary Jo McGuire of Ramsey County, Minnesota; Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin, who presented via Zoom due to the special legislative session; Democratic Gubernatorial candidate Dr. Chris Jones, who appeared by video; and Republican Gubernatorial candidate Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

Each of the nine associations under the AAC umbrella met, and many of them discussed and finalized the legislative packages they will submit to the AAC Board and Legislative Committee for review. Jail Track Training was once again offered by the AAC RMF staff, and breakout sessions focused on heavy topics, such as Infrastructure, Active Shooters and Volatile Persons Awareness, Dealing with Difficult People, and more.

The AAC Executive Director and I had the privilege of handing out several awards. During our Tuesday night AAC Board meeting, we honored retiring Greene County Treasurer and longtime AAC Board member Debbie Cross with a Diamond Award for her service. We also honored Arkansas Municipal League (ARML) Executive Director Mark Hayes and ARML Legal Counsel John Wilkerson with Diamond Awards in appreciation of their partnership with counties and the state to seek a settlement from opioid manufacturers.

This year’s AAC scholarship recipients were recognized, as were several of our ArkTRECS participants. ArkTRECS is a program the AAC and NACo has collaborated on to help our county officials collect certain outstanding debts. If this program sounds interesting to you, please contact Lindsey French at the AAC for more information.

Thank you to all our exhibitors and sponsors. We had 97 exhibitors and sponsors this year. Without you, our conference would not be possible. I appreciate your continued support of county government more than I can say.

In this issue of County Lines magazine, you will see highlights from the 54th Annual Conference, starting on page 26 with our annual AAC scholarship winners. On page 28, you’ll read about this year’s 2022 Wes Fowler Advocacy Award. It was my immense pleasure to recognize fellow Circuit Clerk and AAC Board Member Brenda DeShields of Benton County with this award.

On the pages that follow, you can relive the conference and the annual Randy Kemp Memorial Scholarship Golf Tournament through photos.

If you couldn’t join us for conference this year, please consider attending next year. The 55th Annual Conference will be held August 9-11, 2023, at the Rogers Convention Center in Benton County. I look forward to seeing you all there.

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