4/8/2009 - Chilton County Judge receives Alumna Award
Chilton County district judge Rhonda Jones Hardesty received the 2009 "Outstanding Alumna Award" at Judson College on April 4 as part of the college's annual J-Day celebration.
Hardesty is a 1977 graduate of Judson where she was named an "Outstanding Senior" and earned a bachelor of science degree. She began her teaching career at Jemison High School and inaugurated the first girl's varsity basketball team in the county. Within three years her team was ranked second in the state and played in the state championship in Birmingham.
While teaching, Hardesty began attending evening classes at the Birmingham School of Law where she received the "American Jurisprudence Award" for outstanding achievement in criminal law.
After her graduation in 1985, she became the first female president of the Chilton County Bar Association. She was also a member of the American Bar Association, the Alabama Trial Lawyers Association and a member of the Volunteer Lawyers Program, which provides free legal services to indigent defendants.
Hardesty was selected "Outstanding Young Attorney" in 1992 by the Chilton County Business and Professional Women's Club and was subsequently selected by the club as their "Woman of the Year."
In 1998 she was elected Chilton County district judge and was re-elected in 2005. She now has a special appointment as district and circuit judge for Autauga and Elmore Counties.
Hardesty received the Community Intensive Treatment for Youth "Citizen of the Year Award" in 2003 recognizing her service and generosity to Chilton County families.
She received the "Howell Heflin Award" in 2005 for her service and commitment to drug and alcohol rehabilitation.
Hardesty is one of two Alabama judges currently serving on the chief justice's Access to Justice Commission which assures legal access for the state's low income residents who suffer disparate access barriers to the civil justice system.
Hardesty also established a college scholarship program through the juvenile court for Chilton County students.
She has spoken at the University of Montevallo and Judson College and regularly speaks to schools, churches and civic groups on her role as district judge.
Hardesty is the daughter of the late Jake Jones and Peggy Jones and the wife of Chilton County businessman Ray Hardesty. She is a member of the West End Baptist Church in Clanton.
Chilton County High School vice principal, Cynthia Stewart, from the Judson class of 1976, noted in her letter of recommendation that Hardesty "makes annual visits to the local high schools before prom to share the laws concerning safe behavior. She works diligently to procure monies for local programs that aid those in need of tutoring, counseling and other services. She is dedicated to the people of her district and fully understands the issues involved with families."
Hardesty's former teacher at Chilton County High School, Mabel Moore, a Judson alum from the class of 1942, noted in her letter of recommendation that Hardesty is not only an outstanding citizen of Chilton County, but had been a wonderful student.
"If all students were like her, teachers would never retire," Moore wrote.
* Article courtesy of the Judson College Public Relations Office.