Meet the Russell County A-Team

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Four county leaders elected as assoc. presidents

By Toni Stauffer

It’s not 1972, and they are not a crack command unit sent to a military court for a crime they didn’t commit, nor did they escape from a maximum-security stockade to the Los Angeles underground. They are the Russell County A-Team: probate judge Alford Harden, administrator LeAnn Horne, EMA director Bob Franklin, and sheriff Heath Taylor. Each have been chosen to lead the associations in their professions as presidents. To have four presidents in the county at the same time is very notable. 

Alford Harden – President of the Probate Judge Association

Harden graduated from Central High School and attended Chattahoochee Valley Community College before earning a bachelor’s of science in environmental biology and business management from the University of Alabama. 

Before becoming probate judge, Harden worked in the banking and mortgage industry. He has been the Russell County probate judge for almost 13 years. Normally, the term for probate is one year, but the former judge stepped down for another office, so Harden took up his mantle Nov. 7 and will serve a term of 14 months. 

“We make sure all of the clerks and probate judges are properly trained,” Harden said. “Also, an important part of what a probate judge does is watch any and all legislation that might affect the probate and our constituents.”

Bob Franklin – President of the Alabama Association of Emergency Managers (AAEM)

Russell County EMA director Franklin became president of the AAEM in June. He worked as a manager, a Fort Mitchell volunteer fireman, an emergency medical technician, and hazardous materials technician. He served on the Fort Mitchell board of directors as chairman for five years before becoming fire chief. He is also a past president of the Russell County Firefighters Association. He has a master’s certification from the AAEM, was named Acting Director of Homeland Security/Emergency Management for Russell county, and was appointed Director of Homeland Security/Emergency management. After serving three years as the Area 4 director for the AAEM, Franklin was elected to the office of second vice president in 2016 and as president in November 2018. 

“My job as president is to help improve emergency management across the state of Alabama and to develop better relationships with our core partners,” Franklin said. “Also, to improve response, litigation, and other activities that affect the citizens.”

Heath Taylor – President of the Alabama Sheriff’s Association

Sheriff  Taylor has been with the Russell County Sheriff’s Office for 29 years and has been in law enforcement for 32 years. Before attaining the office of Sheriff, Heath spent seven years as a Metro Narcotics Task Force agent and served as chief of investigations for 14 years. 

In February, Taylor was elected as president of the Alabama Sheriff’s Association, an organization he joined in his early 20s.

“Being elected by the other 66 sheriffs in the state to lead the association as president is the biggest honor of my career to date. They afforded me the ability to live out a career dream. Not many people can say they are living their career dream. I am humbled and honored,” Taylor said. 

The ASA provides education, legislative, and legal assistance to Alabamians. As president, Taylor will have legislative duties in Montgomery and will work with the National Sheriff’s Association.

LeAnn Horne — President of the Alabama City/County Management Association

Horne is the first female Russell County Administrator, appointed in 1999. She graduated from Central High School and attended Chattahoochee Valley Community College, and Jones College in Jacksonville, Fla. She has achieved certifications in county administration and city/county management with a state and local government professional management certification. 

Some of Horne’s previous jobs included working with law firms, Fortune 500 companies, Muscogee County government. 

“My goal as President is expanding the ACCMA presence and increasing membership. I have accomplished both.  Membership has doubled and the ACCMA presence has expanded into new cities and counties. I give credit to my executive team and board members who bring excellence, professionalism, and provide me the support necessary to accomplish these goals.”