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Jenny Oldham continues 'good work' of others

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By Robert Villanueva

A DISCOVERY OF FACTS ON JENNY OLDHAM:

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Family: Husband, Dennis; daughters, Emma and Wesleigh; stepdaughters, Katye, Alecia and Heather.

Favorite book: “To Kill a Mockingbird”

Favorite music: An eclectic mix.

Favorite TV show: News programming.

Favorite movie: “I love all movies.”

Pets: Cows; horses; Rusty, a black lab/Great Pyrenees mix; two cats, Jackson and Tucker.

Interesting trivia: “I love to paint. Walls, not pictures.”

 

By ROBERT VILLANUEVA
rvillanueva@thenewsenterprise.com

Citing the Hardin County’s history of female judges and lawyers, Jenny Oldham does not consider it a big deal that she was elected the first female county attorney last November.

“I think I’m just continuing in the good works they started,” Oldham said.

In fact, Oldham recalled being in grade school — probably fourth grade, she said — when Janet Coleman visited the class and spoke. Now a retired judge, Coleman was — from what Oldham remembered — an assistant county attorney at the time.

“I just thought she was fascinating,” Oldham said. “I just wanted to be her.”

The road to her current position seemed paved for some time. The county attorney’s office is very familiar to Oldham.

“I’ve been in this office since I was 18,” she said.

Working in a variety of capacities, Oldham started out, she said, as the employee who answered the phone and took care of “anything anybody needed.”

Among the duties of the county attorney’s office are providing counsel for all county government, criminal prosecution in district court and handling state and federal child support cases. The office employs nine lawyers, Oldham said.

“We’re the largest law firm in Hardin County,” she said.

Although her role as prosecutor is something she’s been honing for the past 14 years, her new job requires more administrative duties than court duties, she said. That has taken some getting used to.

“I really identify myself as a criminal prosecutor,” Oldham said.

Oldham cited learning to delegate as the biggest challenge of her new job.

“It’s all new,” she said.

When she ran for office, Oldham had a list of goals. Among those was getting a victim advocate in the office, which she did.

Often, she said, visitors to the office cannot be helped there but should be directed to another office or agency.

“It’s important to me that we help them get to where they need to go,” she said.

Firming up relationships with law enforcement is another goal Oldham has been working on. She also feels strongly about cracking down on DUI cases.

“That is something I’ve tried to show the community for 14 years, that it matters,” Oldham said.

It is getting harder to get the public’s attention these days, she said, because so many individuals are a “little desensitized” to crime. On the other hand, she said, helping crime victims get through their ordeal is important and rewarding.

Also rewarding for Oldham is witnessing those who have lost everything to addiction use the opportunity through drug court to “come back from addiction.”

In all areas the county attorney’s office handles, helping set standards is the biggest role, Oldham said.

“What we do in the courtroom translates into public safety,” she said.

In addition to her role as a county attorney, Oldham is also a wife and mother of two girls.

“It’s hard to do that mom and Hardin County attorney thing well all the time,” she said.

Sometimes, when scheduling conflicts arise, she must assess where’s she’s most needed.

Family and friends are important to Oldham, who said her campaign for office wouldn’t have been possible without her mom and dad, office staff and friends.

“I was shocked at all the support I got,” she said.

Oldham’s administrative assistant, Robin Todd, has been with the office 23 years, working for three other previous attorneys before her.

“She’s been awesome to work for,” Todd said.

The county attorney is generous, open, upbeat, genuine and sympathetic to employees’ needs, Todd said. Oldham also makes sure to recognize the work of her employees and has an open door policy.

The staff is a more cohesive group because of Oldham, according to Todd, who has known the county attorney since Oldham was in high school.

“Never in my wildest dreams did I know she would be my boss,” Todd said.

Robert Villanueva can be reached at (270) 505-1743 or rvillanueva@thenewsenterprise.com.