New Pct. 4 JP Kirkwood plans regular office hours beginning next week
Beginning Monday Shelby County residents needing the services of the office of Pct 4. Justice of the Peace will have something they have not had for at least several months — regular office hours.
That news comes from JP Jackie Kirkwood who was appointed to the position on Wednesday after Jenny Hicks, former justice of the peace for the Tenaha area precinct, was suspended from office.
Kirkwood on Thursday said initially the office will have tentative hours of 9 a.m. until 12 p.m. Monday through Friday as he and an assistant begin the work of unraveling months worth of having basically no official operations at the office.
The office is located at 140 Ed Wall St. in Tenaha.
“Being a public servant is my main thing,” Kirkwood said. He brings years of experience as a school administrator, including serving as a principal, to the job.
Kirkwood has also served as deputy city marshal in Tenaha for about 13 years and he is a veteran of the U.S. Air Force.
“We'll be moving forward with trying to dispose of traffic tickets and other things that have backed up,” he said. Kirkwood said he met with Shelby County Judge Allison Harbison, 123rd Judicial District Judge LeAnn K. Rafferty and County Treasurer Ann Blackwell.
He said they were each well aware of the circumstances he was taking over in and were very supportive.
“Our county has a very high level of dedication from out elected officials,” he said.
Hicks was suspended from office on Wednesday with Kirkwood immediately named as her replacement on an interim basis.
Anyone needing to reach Kirkwood with questions about the office can reach him at (936) 572-3040.
Shelby County Attorney Gary Rholes on Tuesday filed paper in 123rd District Court seeking the immediate ouster of Hicks. In court documents he said Hicks should be removed from office because she is incompetent and has engaged in official misconduct.
Hicks has been the course of numerous complaints voiced by both residents of the county and officials, he said.
“Jenny Hicks does not keep any kind of office hours, making it impossible to file suits in Pct. 4, such as eviction suits, making it impossible for people to make any disposition of any traffic citations issued to them,” Rholes said in court records. That leaves citizens no means to regain the right to renew their licenses even after they have complied with all they are required to do.
The basic lack of a functioning justice of the peace in the precinct is creating an hardship on residents, other judges and area law officers, he said.
Among officials raising concern over Hicks failure to perform official duties has been Blackwell, Shelby County Treasurer. She cited fears there is money for payments to Hicks' office that has been unaccounted for.
“This type of behavior from an official elected by citizens of her precinct is appalling,” Blackwell said. “She continues to reap the benefits of an employed county officials receiving a paycheck, insurance and earning retirement. Precinct 4 deserves better.”