An end of an era for Talladega County as Jerry Studdard retires after 34 years
by Chris Norwood
Monday marked the end of an era in Talladega County.

After being elected to nine terms as Talladega County Sheriff, Jerry Studdard announced that he would be retiring Monday morning. Gov. Robert Bentley appointed Chief Deputy Jimmy Kilgore to succeed Studdard.

Studdard’s stepson Chad Woodruff issued a written statement on behalf of the family Monday afternoon stating that, “I can confirm that Sheriff Jerry Studdard submitted his notice of retirement to Gov. Bentley’s Office. With this announcement, this closes out the chapter of one of the longest serving sheriffs in the history of the state and begins a new chapter in the life of Jerry and his family. Since taking office in January 1979, Jerry has been committed to and dedicated his personal and professional life to the Talladega County Sheriff’s Department. Unfortunately, a series of health problems over the last two years has now limited his ability to meet his own expectations in serving the people of Talladega County. The overwhelming number of people that have reached out to both the sheriff and his family in recent months are proof of his positive and lasting impact on this community. This retirement is by no means a goodbye, but a celebration of an outstanding career that the sheriff and his family can now reflect back on and enjoy.”

Upon receiving notice of Studdard’s retirement, Bentley appointed Chief Deputy Jimmy Kilgore to serve out the reminder of this term, which runs until January 2015.

Kilgore said he was “honored and humbled to be appointed by Gov. Bentley to serve out the unexpired term. I have worked in the sheriff’s office for 25 years, and for the last 13 years I have been chief deputy, handling day to day operations, personnel and the budget. Due to Sheriff Studdard’s recent medical absence, people will not see any major changes. There will be some minor tweaks to some duties and responsibilities, but nothing major. I am very honored to have the opportunity to work alongside such dedicated men and women. The people of Talladega County are fortunate to have this caliber of officers working for them. We will strive to continue to serve the needs of and protect the citizens of Talladega County.”

As for his predecessor, Kilgore said Studdard “will not just be allowed to fade into the sunset. He will still be around, so don’t be surprised if you see him here.”

Studdard has served 34 consecutive years as sheriff, the longest serving in Talladega County history and possibly tied for longest in state history.

Kilgore was officially sworn in by Circuit Judge Julian King Monday afternoon. After administering the oath, King said, “You have earned this, you deserve it. Kudos to Gov. Bentley for recognizing that.”

Kilgore again emphasized that Studdard would be around helping with the transition. “We are going to keep this train on the track,” he said. “This is not office, it’s the people’s office, and I am honored and humbled to have been selected to manage it.”

Kilgore’s swearing in was planned on very short notice, so there will be a formal, more public ceremony Friday morning at 10 a.m. in King’s courtroom. All family members, friends and members of the general public are invited to attend.

“I’d like to thank everyone for their faith and confidence in me to serve. I will do my best to serve with honor and integrity. We’ll do the best we can.”

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