Kiwanis club hears from probate judge, to host local candidates

Published 9:30 am Thursday, January 11, 2024

VALLEY – The Kiwanis Club of Valley is hosting a series of programs over the next several weeks to give this year’s local candidates for office a chance to talk about why they are running for office this year.

The Democratic and Republican Party primary elections will be taking place on Tuesday, March 5th with any runoffs that are needed taking place on April 16th. The General Election is set for Tuesday, November 5th.

The first candidate to speak in this series of programs was Paul Story, the incumbent probate judge of Chambers County. He is seeking the Republican nomination for a second six-year term.

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He told Kiwanis Club members at Wednesday’s noon hour meeting that he had enjoyed serving the public over the past five years and is asking for their support as he seeks a second term in office. “It has been a privilege to serve this county, and I am asking the voters to give me their prayerful consideration as I seek my second term,” he said.

Story said there had been some major improvements at the state level in the operation of a probate judge’s office. This is particularly true when it comes to audits and mental health placements.

Story worked for EAMC-Lanier Hospital for 12 years and for Dr. David Fagan at Valley Area Medical Pavilion for six years prior to being elected to his first term. This provided him an opportunity to learn about local people who are struggling with their mental health and how they can receive help at the state level.

Story discussed how the probate office is involved in this. In Alabama, any person can seek to have another person committed to a mental hospital by filing a petition with the probate court. The petition must contain the names and addresses of other people who have knowledge of the defendant’s illness or who have observed the person’s overt acts and who may be called as witnesses.

Story said he has seen some sad situations involving those who are mentally ill. In some cases, they have been abandoned by family members who want noting to do with them. In some such cases, the individual struggling with their mental health is in need of family to have a place to stay and to make sure they take daily medication. In most cases, problems occur when their get off their medication.

Story said that situations involving the mentally ill present some very difficult challenges for a probate judge.

On the opposite end of the spectrum are adoptions. These are joyful events.

“It’s a blessing to be a part of this,” he said. “Our Department of Human Resources does a great job of linking children with good families. There is such happiness when the process comes to a conclusion and a child gets to live with a loving family. We once did eight adoptions in one day. Our office will be doing 12 in one day in the near future.”

An important duty of a probate judge is to set up local elections. The staff Is very helpful with this. The office works with private contractor and state officials to make sure the voting machines are working properly and to see that each precinct has adequate staff to run an election.

“We had to change the locations of two precincts,” he said. “The Lakeview voting place has been moved a short distance away to the fellowship hall of Lanier Baptist Church,” he said. “The one in Sparkling Springs has been moved nearby to Mountain View Baptist Church.”

In both instances, the previous sites were getting in bad shape to host an election day.

Story said a number of upgrades have taken place to make it easier for those who are disabled to vote. This includes those who are blind or who have serious vision impairment.

Incumbents on local city councils are getting a break this year. They get to serve an extra year before running for reelection, it they wish to continue serving. They won’t be running until 2025. This is being done statewide to have city elections taking place in a year when the office of president is not up for election.

A member of the club asked Story if he thought judges should run on a party label. He said he’d prefer that it be done in a non-partisan way. “I’m running as a Republican,” he said, “but I’m okay with people who identify with either party.”

Story learned much about public service from his dad, the late Charles Story, who served as the county’s circuit clerk for 20 years. He’s also following his his father’s footsteps as the host of the Southern Gospel Review radio  program.

Story’s first elective office was on the Valley City Council, where he represented District One for six years.

Story is 40 years old and a lifelong resident of Chambers County. He’s a 2001 graduate of Valley High, where he had the honor of directing the largest band in school history. He was the drum major for a special joint performance by the VHS band and an alumni band. It brought down the curtain on old Ram Stadium. The new stadium was ready for play the next year.

Story is the father of three children: Aiden, who’s 15; Alix, who’s 14 and 12-year-old Addison.