Leader Blues

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

TOP STORY > >Prosecutor for Lonoke

Leader staff writer

Lonoke County Prosecutor Lona McCastlain officially announced Tuesday that she is resigning Dec. 31 to accompany her husband Bruce, a colonel in the Army National Guard, on an overseas assignment.

She sent a letter Monday to Gov. Mike Beebe announcing her intentions because his office is responsible for filling the vacancy.

“It has been an honor and a privilege to serve as the Lonoke County prosecution attorney for the past 10 years,” McCastlain said in a press release that went out to local newspapers Tuesday morning. “I want to take this opportunity to thank each and every person who has extended their support and encouragement during my tenure.

“The prosecutor’s office is made up of very special people who have a sincere desire to see that justice is served. I have the utmost respect and admiration for each and every one of them and the job they do. I am confident the governor will appoint an interim prosecutor who will continue to ensure that justice is served in our county,” she said.

In a phone interview Monday evening, McCastlain was less formal. She said she had hoped the news of her leaving could be held off at least until the press release went out because she hadn’t wanted to answer questions about her decision while she was still somewhat emotional about it.

Monday at her office had been a little sad, she said.

“I’m really excited,” McCastlain said of her plans to accompany her husband to Europe. “We spent the first three years we were married there and now we’ll be taking Max (the couple’s 7-year-old son) there and probably stay for three years.

“But it’s hard to leave. After 10 years, it’s just like that office is a part of me,” she said.

Asked what she will do while she’s away, McCastlain said she intends to be a wife and mother.

“I’m going to set up house and put out resumes,” she said. “I hope I can find a job. I worked before when I was there. Of course I was a teacher then. I hope I will be able to find something.”

Bruce McCastlain, who serves full-time in the National Guard, was promoted Sept. 14 from lieutenant colonel to full-bird colonel as the higher rank is called because of the eagle insignia the officers wear on their right lapels.

Lona McCastlain said he got his orders for Europe Sept. 17.

Her husband leaves on Halloween, McCastlain said.

But she will stay on as prosecutor until the courts recess in early December.

She also said she hopes the governor appoints her replacement soon. Her opinion is whether the governor appoints a Democrat or a Republican should not really be an issue considering the nature of the work.

“With a prosecutor, I’ve always thought that was about the least of our concern,” she said. “I hope he makes that appointment by Nov. 1. I certainly want us to have time to make the transition.

“Whoever he appoints will do it their way, and that’s how it should be. But I certainly want a smooth transition, so I hope we have time to communicate.”