Whether it was helping to implement the 9-1-1 emergency communications system, being involved in creating what is now the Jack Jones Juvenile Justice Center or being the first administrator of the W.C. “Dub” Brassell Adult Detention Center, you could count on Mike Hurst to be there, officials said.
Hurst, 63, of Pine Bluff died Monday.
“Mike was kind of like a contact man,” County Judge Mike Holcomb said. “If you wanted to get something done, you called on Mike.”
Charles “Cooter” Failla and Hurst were members of the original 9-1-1 Administrative Board and were among the people responsible for what is now MECA (Metropolitan Emergency Communications Association.)
“He was one of the first coordinators for the board and worked full time on the system in its formative stages,” Failla said.
Failla said the group started in 1987 and worked for three years before the system was up and running.
“The technology then wasn’t what it is today,” Failla said. “Back then we didn’t know what things like GPS were.”
At the time, Hurst was also working for Carlton-Bates Co., as an electronics distributor and Failla said he would frequently go to Hurst’s office there where “the two would argue about 9-1-1 and how it should be done.”
A few years later, Hurst accepted another challenge when then-County Judge Jack Jones designated Hurst as his assistant for juvenile affairs with the goal of eliminating the need for sheriff’s deputies to transport juvenile prisoners and suspects to juvenile facilities in Helena.
“My goal was to have a juvenile justice and juvenile detention center,” said retired Juvenile Judge Tommy Brown, now an attorney in private practice. “Mike’s initial goal was just a detention facility but as time went along, Mike saw the need for both wrapped in one package and managed to convince the county judge and quorum court that it was well worth the county’s time and investment to create one facility.”
Brown said Hurst traveled the country, visiting juvenile facilities to see how they operated, then came back and shared ideas with architects and others involved in the project.
“Through his pushing, we were able to open the facility a few weeks earlier than we were scheduled to in 1997,” Brown said.
He also credited Hurst with incorporating elements such as certified teachers at the center, using probationers and detainees for a juvenile Clean Team, and working with his wife, Jennifer, who was head of the Literacy Council, in tutoring kids with reading problems.
“He worked too hard because he cared deeply for kids and established personal relationships with them,” Brown said.
Lee Johnson, the current administrator at the juvenile detention center, was the assistant administrator under Hurst, and the two worked together even before ground was broken for the new facility.
“He put his heart and soul into the facility,” Johnson said. “He stayed there on weekends and whatever a kid needed, whether it was clothes or a father figure, he was there for them.”
When planning began for the adult detention center, Hurst was at the forefront, writing policies and procedures for the new facility.
“He helped get it off the ground,” said Sheriff Gerald Robinson. “He was a workaholic and spent a lot of hours working on things for not only the employees but for the detainees as well.”
“He made sure that the jail was run professionally,” Robinson said.
After leaving the sheriff’s department, Hurst worked for the County Road Department.
Hurst was reared and received his early education in Pine Bluff, graduating from Pine Bluff High School.
After high school, he worked for the FBI in technical support and communications and began working for the Jefferson County Sheriff Department in 1970.
In addition, Hurst taught a variety of classes at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, Southeast Arkansas College and the Arkansas Law Enforcement Training Academy.
Survivors include his wife, Jennifer Hurst and three sons.
Visitation will be Wednesday from 6-8 p.m. at Ralph Robinson & Son Funeral Directors.
Funeral services for Hurst will be at 11 a.m. Thursday at First Assembly of God Church with burial to follow at Griffin-Leggett Forest Hills Cemetery at Alexander.