In some of his last official acts as county clerk before resigning Wednesday, Jim W. Farrenburg swore in his replacement and handed over the keys to the courthouse, advising County Clerk Clement Cravens he would not need to change the locks.
"We keep up with those keys," Farrenburg said. "They're numbered and they're tagged."
Gov. Bob Holden announced Craven's appointment Monday. Cravens will serve as county clerk during 2004 and will file for re-election in February to finish out the term in 2005-2006. Describing himself as "very interested in this job," as it now stands he intends to keep seeking re-election to the office and serve up until his retirement years.
Cravens said he became interested in the position when he heard Farrenburg was looking to retire.
A native of New Madrid and a 1972 graduate of New Madrid High School, in 1984 Cravens moved "back home" to New Madrid where he has been active in civic affairs and youth sports programs. Cravens served as a New Madrid alderman for nine years and currently serves on the city's Board of Adjustment.
After roughly 18 years of printing ballots and covering elections as publisher of The Weekly Record newspaper in New Madrid, Cravens said he has become very familiar with the inner workings of the county clerk's office and believes he can facilitate a smooth transition.
Cravens said there are two major duties for county clerks: serving as election officer and serving as budget officer for the county.
As compared with serving on the city's Board of Aldermen, Cravens said his new position involves working with more departments and a "larger, more complicated budget."
County clerks serve as a "watchdog over the tax dollars," Cravens said, adding that he will work with the county commissioners to ensure the county maintains fiscal responsibility "and continues to grow financially."
Officials and friends gathered for the swearing in ceremony Wednesday said Farrenburg's 41 years and three months of county service extended through the terms of one-fourth of the country's presidents.
Farrenburg began serving in the county clerk's office as a deputy clerk on Oct. 1, 1962.
He was elected to the office himself for the first time in 1974, taking office Jan. 1, 1975.
Farrenburg said he knows of one other county clerk, Eleanor Koch Rehm of Jefferson County, who started before he did and is still in office.
As much as he enjoyed the job, Farrenburg felt ready to retire before running for this term in office. "The office has just worn me out," he said Wednesday. "It's a hard office to run."
Hearing of Craven's interest in the job, Farrenburg finally felt free to retire with someone ready to take over the reins.
Describing the position's duties as "many and varied," Farrenburg said the variation from day to day and week to week over the years always kept things fresh. "I've never been bored."