A former Pulaski County judge-executive, long-time educator and owner and part owner of numerous businesses in Pulaski and surrounding counties is dead.
Jacob V. (Verl) Garner died about 8 p.m. Friday at Lake Cumberland Regional Hospital. He was 80.
Garner, a resident of Cains Store, served two consecutive terms as county judge-executive. He was first elected in 1973 and took office in 1974.
“Verl was a visionary,” said Rick Barker, a close friend and former director of Pulaski County 9-1-1 Communications Center and county jailer. “He brought Pulaski County government into the modern age.”
Barker recalled that Garner, during his first term in office, initiated the CETA (Comprehensive Employment Training Act), a federal program that brought tremendous changes to Pulaski County government. Garner was instrumental in establishing rural fire departments in the county, bringing fire protection to rural residents.
“There was not a single rural fire department when we started,” recalls James O. “Jim” Burdine who served as public safety director during the Garner administration.
“Fiscal court said we couldn’t do it (establish rural fire departments) ... they said it wasn’t legal,” said Burdine.
Garner’s response: “I’m going to do it whether it’s legal or not.”
“He did it ... we never did find out if it were legal,” laughed Burdine. “Now, you couldn’t take the fire departments from rural communities,” Burdine added.
“Garner never asked ‘How is it?’ but ‘How can it be?’” said Barker. “He was a great county judge.”
Elected twice as a Republican and eventually calling himself an independent, Garner’s effectiveness was his willingness to cross the isle. He was a really close friend with Kentucky Governor Wendell Ford, a Democrat. This relationship resulted in building the Chesterview interchange on the Cumberland Parkway to allow residents in the western part of the county to access the four-lane highway.