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Former Shelbyville mayor Hackworth joins law firm

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He ends a 3-year retirement after working for KLC

By Steve Doyle

A man responsible for helping shape downtown Shelbyville into what it is now finds his name engraved on the front window of a law office there.

Neil Hackworth, mayor of Shelbyville for 13 years, has come out of 3-year retirement and joined Zaring & Sullivan Law Firm at 600 Main Street.

Hackworth, 65, had held several positions with the Kentucky League of Cities, most recently as deputy executive director, and he said it was time for him to get back to work.

“I have been retired for three years now,” Hackworth said. “You just kind of want to be doing something that is relevant and important for yourself and the community, to get back to work and some challenges and good things to do, though not necessarily an eight-to-five-every-single-day situation. This is a good fit for what I wanted to do.”

Hackworth said he had been working with the firm since October and that he likes the direction of the firm.

“I really think Allen [Zaring] and David [Sullivan] are good lawyers and have been impressed with what they do and talked to other people who were impressed with what they do,” he said. “They approached me, and I made the plunge. There are a few law firms, but we want to be the best in town.”

Said Zaring in a statement announcing his hiring: "I have known Neil personally for a many years. When he retired from the Kentucky League of Cities, I had hoped that he would be interested in returning to the practice of law back here at home.

“He is a perfect complement to our firm with his vast experience in municipal law, insurance regulation, and legislative process. Not only is Neil highly capable, but he is a great person to work with who contributes significantly to our structure and commitment to the highest quality of professional, proficient, and personalized service to every Zaring & Sullivan client.”

Hackworth has a background in insurance – he formerly owned the Armstrong Agency in Shelbyville and helped create the insurance program at KLC – and in municipal law.

“I don’t know that I will be involved specifically in insurance issues….Most of my understanding is on that side,” he said. “Allen and David both have done a lot. They’re involved generally on the planning side. I can lend some insight on how they proceed, offer some experience.”

Hackworth is a lifelong resident of Shelby County and graduated from the University of Kentucky College of Law in 1973. During his four terms as mayor, spanning from 1982 to 1995, he helped to develop a Main Street program that has changed downtown and also created the Historic District Commission, which protects the architecture and historical standards of downtown.

He said he “could be interested” in serving as attorney for some civic boards.

“I have been on the water board – I have been involved in some work there – and I may have some interest if there was an opportunity, myself or our firm. We have two paralegals and three lawyers and can handle a lot of things,” he said.

But one thing he ruled out categorically was a return to politics.

“No, I did thirteen years of that and really enjoyed it, I really did,” he said. “I fee like I made some contributions as mayor. I’m proud of that. I’ve been there, done that. I want to support folks in positions. Volunteering, help where I can, be a part of community where I can. I’ll leave that [political life] to younger, other, different people.”