Johnny Rye, Jr: A man with a heart for people

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

Johnny Rye, Jr. knows no stranger. His friends, the people of Poinsett County, are at the heart of all Rye does.

Rye, 47, was born in Marked Tree. His father, Johnny Rye, Sr., started Johnny Rye's Superette in the Black Oak Community of Oak Acres in 1957. After graduating high school and taking a few classes at Arkansas State University, Rye, Jr. went to work for his father in 1977.

In 1990, Rye, Jr. was elected to be the Poinsett County Tax Assessor and has served since. As assessor, Rye is responsible for implementing assessment laws set forth by the state constitution and state statute laws.

Rye has taken the initiative to make sure county appraisals are done by county employees rather than by hired contractors. "We've always done our appraisals ourselves. It's more consistent, we save a lot of money, and most importantly we are more accountable to the taxpayers," Rye said.

Rye goes above and beyond his job responsibilities to serve the people of Poinsett County by working with lawmakers to get legislation passed that will benefit the people. Rye also strives to stop legislation that he views harmful to county citizens.

"I try my best to help the legislature implement laws that would be viewed satisfactory by the actual citizens of the county," Rye said. "If there's a bill out there that would hurt the people, I try to speak out against it."

Rye served as president of the Arkansas Assessors Association in 2001 and currently serves on the Board of Assessor's Legislative Committee. Rye also serves on the Association of Arkansas Counties Board of Directors and its legislative committee. Through his service in both organizations, Rye is able to monitor legislative activity.

"The bottom line is to make sure legislation that's passed is best for the people. I try to put my self in the shoes of the folks," Rye said.

Outside of his work with the county, Rye is actively involved with the First United Methodist Church in Marked Tree where he serves as the chairman of the administrative council and as a member of the pastor parish relations committee.

Rye is active in the chamber of commerce chapters in Harrisburg, Marked Tree, and Trumann. He also participates in the Lions Club in Trumann.

The Mason organization is an important part of Rye's life. He is involved in the Blue Lodge in Marked Tree, the Shriners in Pine Bluff, the Scottish Rights inWest Memphis, and the York Rights in Jonesboro.

Rye said he is motivated in all he does by a chance to serve society and do things that have a chance to change people's lives. "The way I see it, you're only hear for a certain time. At the end of the line you've got to look back at what you did. I want to know I did things that helped people," Rye said.

When Rye is not working or attending meetings, he enjoys spending time with this daughter Robin who is a freshman nursing major at University of Central Arkansas in Conway. He also enjoys taking a rare vacation to Branson to watch shows or occasionally catching a ball game with his dad. For the most part, Rye spends his time hard at work for the citizens of Poinsett County.

"My hobby is working for you guys," Rye said. "Sometimes I go back to work at 11 or 12 at night to make sure I get things done right."

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