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Getting to know you; Keri Jones, deputized Chief Office Executive at Hancock County Sheriff’s Office

Kari Jones is the deputized Chief Office Executive at the Hancock County Sheriff’s Office in Hawesville. She’s been in the position since 2002. Sheriff Dale Bozarth and his wife, Dana, asked if she would be interested in coming to work there when Karen White retired as Chief Deputy.

She was a data entry clerk at Commonwealth Aluminum for six years before accepting the new position. “My biggest job is collecting taxes,” Kari said. “I’m the tax collector for the whole county and I’m the only one who does property taxes. I have a lot of responsibility, there’s about $9 million that I collect from November to April, and that all has to be balanced to the penny.

I also do vehicle inspections, concealed carry deadly weapons (CCDW), and I help people if they have questions. I am basically the secretary for the sheriff. He is just a one-of-a-kind boss. He’s absolutely amazing, but I also work for the people in the county, and both of those are an absolute blessing.”

It wasn’t previously required to go to the police academy for her position. “When I hired in,” she said, “I think it was 16 weeks that you had to go to the academy. That was not something I was interested in at all. I don’t do any of the law enforcement part of it. I don’t have arrest powers.” She completed a vehicle inspection course in Frankfort, and had previously earned her Administrative Assistant Degree at Kentucky Tech (now OCTC). “I feel like this was God’s plan for me,” she added. “My job can be very stressful but it’s rewarding at the same time.”

She said she really enjoys helping people and told about just one of the ways that she and her co-workers were able to help someone in need, in a way that you might not expect. “Saundra Arison was a deputy when I started working in the office and we got along so great,” she said. “We had an older gentleman that lived way out in the county. He would come in a couple of times a month and ask for money. He had a lot of trouble. He never got into trouble, he was a good guy, life was just hard for him. We would give him money and he would pay it back the next month when he would get his check.”

Saundra, Sheriff Bozarth and Kari all contributed each time he would come in. One year it was getting close to Christmas and he told them he was having trouble feeding his dogs and that they had ended up killing his chickens that he was raising for his own food. “We decided we were going to buy him a 50-pound bag of dog food for Christmas and some other items and food,” she said. “We brought all that in and we knew he would be coming in some time. He came in and we handed him all this stuff and he cried…That’s what gets me. I love helping people.”

She grew up on North Indian Hill Road, in the Blackford Bottoms in Hawesville. Her parents are Don & Diane Brown. Don’s parents, Hunter & Lois Brown, lived nearby, as well as his siblings. The family all pitched-in together to help raise tobacco. Kari and her brother, Chad, helped in the garden and in the tobacco patch. Their father worked at the papermill for 47 years and their mom stayed home with them and worked in tobacco, gardened, raised them and kept “a spotless house,” Kari said.

“I grew up in a Christian home. My dad is the Deacon of Blackford Baptist Church. My mom is a Sunday school teacher. They had my brother and I in church every Sunday morning, Sunday night and Wednesday night. I credit them for guiding me to know what I’m supposed to do. Everything they do they pray about. I learned that from them. I’m not near as good as Christians as what they are. I’ve never heard my parents say one bad word ever. I’m fortunate. I was just super blessed with wonderful parents. They taught me so much. I’m proud of my parents because of the way they raised me.”

Kari and her husband, Chuck, met at work. He was deputy sheriff-K9 handler at the sheriff’s office. “We would’ve never met anywhere else,” she said. “I think God had a hand in that too.” They started dating in 2004 and married in 2007, in the Smoky Mountains. He is a U.S. Marine Corps Veteran. He now works as a maintenance supervisor, and they live in Hawesville.

Brett Bradley (23), Kari’s oldest son, works at Commonwealth. Her son Corey Bradley (22) works at Crescent Paper Tube. He and his wife, Kaitlyn, married in October, 2022. “I am so blessed that God chose me to be their mom. I’m proud of both of my boys,” she said.

When she married, Kari says she “gained 4 bonus children,” and she is proud of them as well. They are: Ashley, Derek, Ryan and Samantha. Kari & Chuck are also blessed with 12 grandchildren. “The oldest is in Italy, in the Army,” she said. “The next to the oldest just joined the Air Force, so he is going through basic training right now. The youngest is 3.”

She and Chuck love spending time with their children and grandchildren. In their spare time they like to travel locally in their jeep. “We just drive around, sometimes with no certain places in mind,” she said. “We get in our jeep, take off driving and explore places. We find roads with beautiful scenery. We also have a boat and enjoy going to Patoka Lake. We love to go around the lake in the boat, and love watching for the eagles. When I see an eagle, that reminds me that we have freedom because we live in the U.S.A. We drive up there in the wintertime as well just to see if we can find an eagle. It’s not often you see them. The first time that we saw one it brought tears to my eyes. They are just beautiful birds and what they stand for…They are just so majestic.”

Kari’s favorite quotes are: “Keep your face always toward the sunshine and the shadows will fall behind you,” by Walt Whitman and “Keep smiling because life is a beautiful thing and there’s so much to smile about,” by Marilyn Monroe. She said she believes if everyone lived with a dedication to being humble and kind that the world would be a better place.

After graduating from Hancock County High School in 1993, she worked in the deli department at Kroger in Owensboro for about a year before studying at KY Tech. Her manager there called her “Sunshine” because he said she always had a smile on her face. “You just never know what anyone is going through in life and I want to give them a little bit of encouragement or just a little bit of love because I think a smile is a symbol of love and a nonverbal way to say ‘It’s going to be alright.’

I’ve come across people who were struggling and they just want to talk to someone. They have no one that will listen,” she said. “We are here for God. He created us and everything we do in life we’re supposed to do for God…God loves us. Everyone is beautiful in His eyes.”

By Jennifer Wimmer

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