Thanks for a job well done was the message Friday as Panola County officials gathered to celebrate retiring sheriff Kevin Lake.

Lake’s last day is Friday, after 29 years in Panola County law enforcement.

“It’s been an adventure for sure. It’s been a rewarding career, with working with many good people,” Lake said. “As I said in my Facebook post, we’ve laughed together, we’ve cried together but the important thing is we’ve done it together. I’ve really enjoyed the career, been a blessed career and I’m just looking forward to what comes now.”

A swearing-in ceremony for Sarah Fields, Lake’s successor, will take place after the 10 a.m. Panola County Peace Officers Memorial ceremony on Friday morning.

Fields will be the second female sheriff in Panola County and the first to be a licensed peace officer. The first was Juanita Hunt, who was appointed as sheriff in September 1956 to finish her husband Glen Hunt’s term after his death. She served until December of 1956.

Other upcoming changes at the Sheriff’s Office, announced by Lake last week, include:

  • Sgt. Adam Jones will be promoted to Captain, replacing Fields as third in command
  • Deputy Hollie Mojica will move from civil process assistant to criminal investigations
  • David Gray will also join the criminal investigations team

Panola County Judge LeeAnn Jones and Fields, on Friday, said the county has been blessed to have Lake as their sheriff.

“We’re going to miss him greatly, but we know that he’s going to be around and we look forward to seeing him,” Fields said. “And we look forward to working with him at the constable’s office.”

Former Panola County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy John DePresca said he wished Lake the best.

“He was a great sheriff for the county, he served the people very well and Kevin’s a good Christian man,” DePresca said. “It was my honor to be his second in command.”

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Meredith Shamburger serves as the regional editor for Carthage and Kilgore. She has previously worked at the Longview News-Journal, the Marshall News Messenger and The Dallas Morning News. Meredith graduated from Southern Methodist University in 2011.