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'Its time for me to hang it up': Houston County's Cullen Talton, the longest serving sheriff in the U.S., says he'll retire

Sheriff Cullen Talton is in his 13th and final term serving Houston County. After being honored by the county Tuesday, he says he'll pass the baton.

HOUSTON COUNTY, Ga. — They say if you do what you love, you'll never work a day in your life.

One Central Georgian can strongly attest to that after serving his community for over half a century.

After 51 years of service, Sheriff Cullen Talton is the longest-serving active sheriff in the Peach State.  Houston County called him the longest-serving sheriff in the United States.   

"I think if there's one word I would use to describe Sheriff Talton it is 'servant' because he has been a servant of this community and a servant of the public for so long," Chairman Dan Perdue said.

Leaders and community members gathered at the Houston County Annex before the commissioners meeting to honor the long-time sheriff. 

They passed Resolution 350 honoring him for his years and years of service.

His great-grandchildren, Tate and Ellie Talton, also attended.

"He's done an amazing job and deserves every bit of the credit, but I just love how much he is just not wanting to receive the credit, that he's giving it to others," 12-year-old Ellie said. "That's just had a big impact on me."

Talton was elected in 1972 by voters in Houston County, where he was born and raised. He served as a commissioner before he was sheriff.

At 91-years-young, it's been a long time. He thinks it's been worth it.

"I enjoy what I'm doing!" he said.

Chairman Perdue said he's known the sheriff since he was a kid.

"Our families were kind of close," he said. "I really had more interaction with his son and his grandson through that, but always knew of Sheriff Talton, and had a tremendous amount of respect for him growing, and knew who the sheriff was from a young age."

His grandkids feel the same way.

"He's always been, kinda like, the person, like, the peacekeeper of the family," Ellie said. "He's just such a role model to me. The way he always loves everybody, and how he always wants to serve. It just impacted not just me but the whole county as a whole. Just to love others and to serve others, not just on the county level."

The county may be saying goodbye to their longtime sheriff in 2024 at the end of his 13th and final term.

"It's time for me to hang it up, so I won't run again," he told 13WMAZ.

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