Pardon us if we get a little sentimental here, but it’s hard not to when we are about to lose so many great people who have done great things for our city.
Through retirement or political circumstances, Pine Bluff is seeing the departure of Mayor Debe Hollingsworth, Jefferson County Judge Dutch King, Pine Bluff Convention Center Director Bob Purvis and Pine Bluff Police Chief Jeff Hubanks.
These are all people we think highly of and will miss working with in the months to come.
We were pleased during a recent conversation with Hollingsworth about her departure from City Hall after being defeated by Mayor-elect Shirley Washington in this year’s Democratic Primary. She told us she has no plans to stay silent in her capacity as a private citizen. Heaven knows our city needs as many advocates as it can get. And we salute you for that, mayor.
King has done that we think is an admirable job as county judge, what with all the budget problems the county has faced during his tenure. He has done a good job steering the ship, and we are sorry to see him go.
As for Purvis, he said he planned to marry his companion of 20 years in March.
“I will be going my way, following my heart,” Purvis said. “This is the hardest decision I have ever made in my life. This place has been my love and joy.”
Purvis has always been one of the true Pine Bluff characters — he’s tall with a strong southern baritone voice that makes folks feel right at home wherever he goes. And his quick wittiness is second to none. There were many times when we had him on the phone for an interview, only to be left in stitches by a one-liner.
Take care in retirement, Bob, and we wish the best to you and your soon-to-be wife.
Chief Hubanks will be especially missed, since, under his tenure, our city’s crime rate has dropped dramatically. Hubanks told our reporter David Hutter on Tuesday that: “Crime is down 31.8 percent after three years. When I became police chief, the department was a mess, crime was high, there were many inaccuracies as to the way crime was reported and given to the public. When you Googled ‘Pine Bluff’ beginning in 2015, you did not get the top ten worst cities anymore. That makes us more attractive to site locators. We have had a significant impact on the three-county area.”
Hubanks called Hollingsworth’s hiring him “humbling, rewarding and spiritually fulfilling.”
We understand that the chief will be riding his Harley Davidson motorcycle in retirement and enjoying time with his family. The life of a lawman — and he’s been one for 30 years, the past four of which were as our chief — means long hours and sacrifice. We salute you, Chief Hubanks, and we thank you for your service to our city. Best wishes.