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Life for Tim Walker, J.J. Duvall and Blake Proffitt was different Monday. They spent their first days as mayors in the towns they grew up in.
The men spent years as members of their respective city councils, but now, leading the cities rests on their shoulders.
Here’s a glimpse of their first day as mayors.
Elizabethtown Mayor Tim Walker didn’t have time to ease into his first day in office.
Shortly after arriving Monday, he rushed into meetings with department heads and started mapping out the day’s agenda.
But while he kept a breakneck pace throughout the day, Walker wasn’t baffled by anything thrown his way.
“Really, there’s not been any surprises yet,” he said.
Walker’s office, occupied by former Mayor David Willmoth for years, mostly was bare Monday afternoon — only a few personal items of Walker’s could be found.
So far, he’s had little time for decorating.
“It will take all of those shelves just to put my grandkids’ photos on,” he said. “And my kids.”
Family is an anchor in Walker’s life, but he is committed to a flexible schedule, he said.
“I knew coming in it would be a full-time position and however many hours it takes, that’s how many it takes,” Walker said. “I told my wife, ‘I’ll see you when I see you.’”
During an exchange with a computer technician setting up his computer, Walker handed him a business card with his cell phone number handwritten on the back.
“I’m 24/7, too,” Walker told him.
It’s a mantra he plans to live by as he transitions into the office after 14 years on city council. Walker took office on the day he would preside over his first council meeting as mayor. It’s an added challenge, but one he said he is prepared for.
Another aspect of the job he is committed to is reaching across boundaries to his fellow mayors and county leaders. Walker plans to attend a forum later this month in Radcliff hosted by Mayor J.J. Duvall and will meet with Vine Grove Mayor Blake Proffitt to discuss upcoming events there he can help with, he said.
“The thing I think we can all do is communicate,” he said.
“When I walked in this morning, reality set in,” an emotional J.J. Duvall said Monday afternoon. The often criticized councilman replaced Sheila Enyart as Radcliff’s mayor.
“Today is the first day of four years,” he said.
The energetic Duvall was all smiles Monday as he moved from room to room greeting city employees and department heads, including Planning Director Steve Barno and Chief Financial Officer Chance Fox.
Duvall even fielded phone calls — something that surprised those calling, he said.
“I don’t mind answering the phone,” he said.
A cloud of controversy has drifted from Duvall’s mind as he starts to schedule meetings and coordinate with his fellow mayors on future projects.
This week, he plans to address department heads on the outlook of his administration and wants to meet with each employee individually in the coming weeks to establish rapport.
“They may know my face, but they may not know me on a personal level,” he said.
He also has scheduled a Jan. 18 forum featuring a briefing by Col. Rick Schwartz, Fort Knox garrison commander, for political leaders throughout the community. And he will host a mayor’s breakfast at Colvin Community Center at the end of the month, an event sponsored by private organizations. Duvall, the city council and city employees will distribute food to the public, he said.
An aggressive approach is needed for progress in Radcliff and to build on successes, Duvall added, and he already has started making visible changes at city hall.
The aroma of fresh paint met visitors and employees entering City Hall on Monday as Duvall and his staff finished remodeling.
Duvall has moved his office closer to the entrance and said he plans to make it accessible by opening a side entrance near his office where he can meet with the public.
Enyart’s former office, meanwhile, will be transformed into a conference room and Duvall wants to move the council’s meeting space near his office to provide some uniformity.
Last month, Duvall also announced he would reinstate a public comment section at city council meetings.
“When you say ‘open door,’ you either mean it or you don’t,” Duvall said. “I think it’s important that I be an accessible mayor.”
Not long after he arrived at work Monday to begin a four-year term as mayor, Blake Proffitt was met by a resident with a complaint.
Someone received a water bill for $1,000.
“The meter was read incorrectly,’’ Proffitt said. “It turns out the bill was going to be around 14 dollars. I took him back into my office and we talked about it and tried to figure what went wrong.’’
Following six years on Vine Grove City Council, Day 1 as mayor for Proffitt included getting computers reinstalled after they were moved, and understanding “the flow chart” on city business. And, he presided over a council meeting.
“It’s been a busy day, but it’s been a real good day,’’ he said.
Proffitt spent about 30 minutes meeting with city clerk Carrie Broussard.
“She’s outstanding,’’ he said. “She helped me to know which way to paddle.’’
He said there were no real surprises on his first day and said walking in Vine Grove City Hall as mayor was like walking into school for the first day.
“It was nervous anticipation,’’ he said. “You want to do so much and you want to get things done. You’re here for four years to do it, so you need to prioritize to what you want to accomplish.’’
Proffitt replaced Donovan Smith, who decided not to seek a third term as mayor.
Story by MARTY FINLEY and JEFF D’ALESSIO
Marty Finley can be reached at (270) 505-1762. Jeff D’Alessio can be reached at (270) 505-1757.