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By John Whitlock
For over 35 years, Joan Kincaid has been a presence in Owen County government.
On Tuesday morning, she stepped away from her desk and down from her position as Owen County Clerk.
The road to serving such a long stretch in local government began in 1978 at Owenton’s Western Auto when Kincaid was asked to join the Owen County Sheriff’s Office as a clerk.
“I was working for Doug Wainscott at Western Auto in Owenton. It was just for the Christmas season,” Kincaid said. “Doug West had been elected sheriff and was just ready to go into office. Doug had been my school bus driver so I knew him. Back in those days, a sheriff couldn’t succeed themselves. He had considered another lady but she want to change jobs for maybe just four years.”
Kincaid was happy to get the steady work.
“I immediately said OK,” Kincaid said.
She got her first taste of governmental paperwork in the sheriff’s office.
“I was so happy just to be there. I couldn’t absorb enough. There was so much to learn,” Kincaid said. “I was happy to work with Doug and ended up working for him for four years.”
After West served his four years, Kincaid stayed in the office for an additional two years under Owen County Sheriff Tommy Kemper.
In 1983, then-Owen County Clerk Eugene Young lured Kincaid away from the sheriff’s office to become a deputy in the clerk’s office.
“It was a little bit more money and a bit more stable since the county clerk could succeed themselves,” Kincaid said. “I figured I could stay there for awhile.”
After serving under Young and former clerk Mary Kaye Duncan, Kincaid sought and won the office for herself in 2002.
“I’ve been here ever since,” Kincaid said.
Through her position as county clerk, Kincaid has seen a generation of Owen countians be born and reach important milestones in their life through the paperwork in her office.
“The clerk’s office is the one place that you pretty much get to see everyone in the county at least once a year,” Kincaid said. “
When people come in the clerk’s office to get a marriage license or hunting or fishing license, Kincaid said she and the staff develop a rapport with the people of Owen County.
“To a degree, we get involved with people’s lives,” Kincaid said. “We meet the people and through the years, you really get to know them. You have a personal relationship with them and in the clerk’s office, you get closeness to the people. That’s probably what I am going to miss the most.”
Talking to and getting to know people might be the best part of her job, but Kincaid said she also has to deal with some people in their darkest hour.
“The saddest part of the job is have to sell people’s property for taxes, Personally, it gets to me every time,” Kincaid said. “I know we have to do it and it helps the county out because it gets the money it needs but sometimes it’s not possible that they can pay and some company will come in and make them pay triple for the taxes owed.”
Doing her official duty can sometimes be sad, Kincaid said.
“The law says they have to be offered up and in this economy, sometimes people just can’t pay and that’s really hard,” Kincaid said.
In her role overseeing elections, keeping in compliance with shifting state law and the sea of regulations will not be an aspect of the job Kincaid will miss at all.
“I won’t miss the paper work,” Kincaid said. “There is always a lot of change, constant changing, and that can be hard to deal with. But I will miss the contact with the people that I’ve always had as clerk.”
Owen County Judge-executive and former Owen County Circuit Court Clerk Carolyn Keith said Kincaid’s reputation for organization and a smooth running office extended beyond the county borders.
“As circuit clerk, when I would travel around the state, people would always … be so complimentary of the county clerk’s office in Owen County. The records were in place and they were in order and the entire office was handled very professionally and we thank you for that Joan.”
But even though she is retiring, Kincaid won’t be slowing down much. She recently received her auctioning and real estate licenses and will be working in those fields.
Retirement will give Kincaid a chance to spend more time with her family including her husband Terry.
“I love that job and I do but its time to do something else,” Kincaid said. “I told Terry it was time to slow down.”
Another person will be seeing more of Kincaid is her mother Hannah Adams.
“She needs me and I need to step up and make sure she is taken care of,” Kincaid said.
Instead of issuing licenses, Kincaid will spend some of her newfound time outdoors.
“I’m excited by the change,” Kincaid said. “Right now, my big plan is to do a little fishing and I haven’t had time for that as clerk.”
As she reflects on her tenure, Kincaid wanted to thank the people of the community for their support.
“Owen County is a great place to work and there are wonderful people and I will miss them all,” Kincaid said.
The public is invited to take part in a retirement celebration for Kincaid on Sunday from 2 until 5 p.m. at the Owen County Extension Service Building.