This week’s Hometown Hero, presented by Hendrick Southpoint, is recently-retired Orange County judge Joe Buckner.

Buckner stepped down from his position as the county’s Chief Judge and his 25 years of service leaves him with one of the longest tenures in local history.

“They said, ‘how long are you going to stay,’” Buckner said last month, “and I said, ‘well, probably not as long as Judge [Stanley] Peele did.’ And I’m only under his record by about three months. I’m really glad Judge Peele’s record as longest serving district court judge is going to stay intact.”

At Buckner’s retirement ceremony, many people spoke up about the impact he’s had on the community.

“You have been there for me when I needed you the most,” Orange County Sheriff Charles Blackwood said to Buckner. “You’ve given your time to me, your wisdom to me, you’ve given good advice and counsel to me. I’ll never forget it and I’m a better person because of you.”

Buckner said that impact cannot be solely credited to him. He thanked all of the people who have helped his office through the 25 years.

“The judge is the spoke in the middle of the wheel and all the other people are the spokes that support the wheel,” he explained. “A judge has to make decisions in turn, but everybody else does the heavy lifting. So, the judges are grateful to all the court personnel that make our [judicial] system work.”

With his family members in attendance, Buckner said he is looking forward to this next chapter with them. But he also said not to expect for him to kick back and relax.

“I’m going to stay in the workforce,” said Buckner. “I’ve had a job since I was eight years old. I’ll be doing something.”