VALDOSTA – Gov. Brian Kemp said Lowndes County Sheriff Ashley Paulk is a lawman who personifies the Scout Law.
In presenting Paulk with the 2019 Boy Scouts of America South Georgia Council Distinguished Citizen Award, Kemp said Tuesday evening the sheriff is a leader who exemplifies these qualities.
The Scout Law states a Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent.
Kemp praised Paulk's work with the Boy Scouts, the Boys and Girls Club, the Georgia Sheriff's Ranch and other youth organizations.
"Sheriff Paulk's public service is quite legendary in this part of the world," the governor said.
Kemp also extolled the virtues of Scouting and people who support Scouting.
"I appreciate Scouts for standing up for what they believe in and their values," he said, adding many people are attacked for their values these days.
"The state of our state is rock solid because of organizations like yours," Kemp said.
Referring to the Scout Law, the governor advised Scouts to "learn those principles now (and it) will send you down the right path in the future."
Kemp mentioned Paulk's public service as an elected official. Paulk served four terms as sheriff from 1993 through 2008. He was then elected Lowndes County Commission chairman and served one term before opting not to seek reelection. In 2016, Paulk ran for a fifth term as sheriff and won. He has said he's running for sheriff again in 2020.
In the invocation, the Rev. Mike Davis, Lowndes County Sheriff's Office chaplain, said Paulk cares for the deputies under his watch and he cares for the people of the county.
Southern Circuit Judge James Tunison, who served as the master of ceremonies for the evening, also called the sheriff an example of the Scout Law. He said the ceremony was about three things: honoring Ashley Paulk, raising money for the Boy Scouts and to thank and hear the governor.
In accepting the award, Paulk thanked his wife, Ginger, for her unending support of him, their family and the community; the governor for not forgetting the residents of South Georgia; and the people attending the banquet.
Looking out at the audience in the ballroom of the James H. Rainwater Conference Center, the sheriff said the seats were full because "we've got the best governor we've had in quite a while. The only way I'd get a crowd this big is if I'd brought all the inmates here."
Paulk becomes the latest South Georgia resident to receive the council's prestigious award. Past honorees include the late Ed Crane, 1993; Dr. Loyce W. Turner, 1996; the late Dr. Hugh Bailey, 1998; the late W. Parker Greene, 2000; Judge H. Arthur McLane, 2002; Joe Cordova, 2004; the late Bill Eager, 2006; Dr. Ronald Zaccari, 2008; Jerry Jennett, 2010; James McGahee, 2012; the late Col. Clarence Parker, 2014; Nell Roquemore, 2016; Tyson McLane, 2018.