Alex Dudchock retiring as Shelby County manager

By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor

COLUMBIANA – After more than 30 years of leading Shelby County from almost financial ruin to solid financial standing, Shelby County Manager Alex Dudchock will be retiring at the end of March 2020, he told Shelby County Commission members during a March 11 meeting.

“Today is me giving official notice that 12 months from today, I will retire. It has been an honor to work with you and the other county commissioners, and especially our staff members,” Dudchock told the commissioners. “We have excelled because of our talent at all levels of county government. I have enjoyed my tenure. I plan to finish strong, and will continue to do my job as you expect it and as I expect it. God bless you, and thank you for all you mean to me, my family and especially the county.”

Dudchock began his tenure with Shelby County in 1988, and his leadership has had a profound effect on the county’s success, said Shelby County Attorney Butch Ellis. Shortly after taking office in the late 1980s, Dudchock helped the county overcome the most dire financial situation it had experienced.

“I’ve had a unique perspective of county government, and Shelby County has always been a great county. But we, in 1992, were literally on the edge of bankruptcy,” Ellis said. “We had already prepared for filing the petition to bankrupt this county as the first Chapter 9 county bankruptcy in the Southeast. Largely through Alex’s efforts and the leadership of this commission, we have become now recognized throughout the state as probably the most soundly run, secure, financially and every other way, county in this state.”

Dudchock said some of the biggest accomplishments he has seen during his county tenure have been creating a new personnel system, developing the county’s infrastructure and the creation of new judicial and behavioral health services “enabling many to believe in the future and have hope instead of despair.”

“We accomplished a lot, but there’s so much more we can accomplish going forward, because you have the right people in roles to continue leading. We have strong professionals in departments, we have strong lay leaders in board service roles,” Dudchock said. “When we have turnover in those areas, we go after the next talent.

“It’s time. As my letter to you says: I cannot personally commit the amount of time and energy that I have been doing at my level of expectation on myself,” he added. “I cannot continue that past this 12-month period. I wouldn’t be doing myself justice in doing that. My goal in the future is to have a more narrow duty, a more focused duty, in some type of area.”

Ellis said Dudchock has helped build the county into what it is today, and said he will be difficult to replace.

“I’ve told Alex privately that I believe he’s the best county manager in the United States, and I truly believe that. I don’t just say that as a compliment,” Ellis said. “It’s going to be hard to replace him, but we do have talented people coming up. We owe Alex a debt of gratitude. He’s going to be missed.”