David Ball

For The Record

County Judge Carl Thibodeaux isn’t the only one who will be terminating his employment with Orange County at the beginning of the New Year.

Jill Shores, personnel director for the county, reported in addition to Thibodeaux’s departure, 12 others have given notice they are ending their employment with the county. Some elected officials and department heads are included on the lilst.

Owen Burton, Precinct 2 commissioner for 11 years, didn’t run again in the November General Election. Barry Burton will be sworn in as the new commissioner on Jan. 1, 2015.

Likewise, Janice Menard, Precinct 3 justice of the peace, lost her election to Joy Dubose Simonton. Menard’s last day is December 31. She has worked in the JP3 office since 1982.

Karen Jo Vance, longtime county clerk, ran unopposed in the General Election, but she decided to retire  at the end of the year after being re-elected.

Vance wrote in an email she is the happiest and feels the most peace than she has in years over her decision.

“I didn’t know the stress I had. I guess it took April 2014 to roll around on the calendar for me to see I’ve spent more than 40 years of my life in this office,” she wrote. “But they weren’t by any means the best years of my life. Thanks to the Good Lord Above who kept putting retiring into my mindset. I kept dismissing the very idea of it, but it kept nagging at me.”

She added several close family members have become very ill and she had to take off from work to care for them.

“I realized I didn’t miss work one bit. I realized the office did not need me there to run fantastically and without any problems whatsoever,” Vance stated.

Vance concluded her email by writing her 60th birthday is on December 28 and retirement will be the best gift.

“I will not be back in the office. I’ve cleaned out my personal belongings so this is goodbye,” she wrote.

Vance plans to do some traveling while retired.

“I like to travel, my husband, Robert, not so much …. So I will probably be doing lots of solo traveling with the Ellen Ray and Patsy Peck group tours.

“Then, once a year or maybe twice, Robert will travel with me and I’d love for him to see Wales, my favorite so far. I haven’t seen Germany, Austria, Denmark, Sweden, Switzerland and much much more of the grand old USA, so catch me if you can.”

Other than traveling, Vance will be “doing lots of relaxing and not thinking about getting elected again.”

“Being an elected official is not for sissies,” she joked.

Two other department heads leaving are Jeff Kelley, emergency management coordinator, and Shores herself.

Kelley will be working in the Austin area to be closer to his children. He began working for the county in 2006.

Shores has spent 20 years with the county and she will help her husband with some of the businesses they have.

Donna Minter, transportation director, added her name to the list of employees retiring. She has been an Orange County employee for the past 15 years.

Other employees departing include Michael Hale, mosquito control night foreman; Renee Peveto, auditing clerk; Toshi Garrett, assistant auditor; Kathy Davis, juvenile probation officer; Pamela Webb, corrections officer for the Orange County Sheriff’s Office and Faye Liddell, sergeant for the OCSO.

Thibodeaux said he couldn’t recall such a mass exodus of employees from the county in his 20 years of service.

“These are key department heads. It will be a challenge to replace them. That’s a lot of experience going out the door,” Thibodeaux said.

Thibodeaux said he doesn’t have immediate plans after he leaves the county on December 31. He’s currently taking care of his wife who has been recovering from open heart surgery.

He added he may become interested in a new job, such as pharmacy for instance, if the right offer comes along.