Burnet County Sheriff’s Office Cpl. John ‘Chip’ Leake (right) was appointed to replace the late Jimmy Ballard (left), formerly the Precinct 3 constable, who passed away July 2 after a lengthy battle with cancer and other health issues. The two became friends in 1997 when Leake moved to the Highland Lakes as a Texas Department of Public Safety trooper. Staff photo by Joan Magerkurth Leake
FROM STAFF REPORTS
BURNET — When Burnet County Commissioners Court appointed Burnet County Sheriff’s Office Cpl. John “Chip”Leake as the Precinct 3 constable, they selected an officer with more than three decades of law enforcement experience as well as a friend of the man whose shoes he will fill.
“We had been friends since I came here, but we got really close before he passed away,” Leake said about Jimmy Ballard, who died July 2 after a long battle with cancer and other health issues.
Leake was appointed to the position July 24 during a regular session of the Commissioners Court.
Ballard first became constable in 1995 in an appointment by the then-Commissioners Court before eventually being elected to the position. In 2000, a challenger unseated Ballard, but, three years later, the Commissioners Court re-appointed him to the position after it became vacant, and he held it up until his death.
In Leake, commissioners found a law enforcement officer with 36 years of experience. He served as a Texas Department of Public Safety trooper for about 27 years. His DPS career brought him to the Highland Lakes in 1997.
After retiring from the DPS, Leake joined the Horseshoe Bay Police Department. Then, in January of this year, Burnet County Sheriff Calvin Boyd tapped him to be head bailiff/court security coordinator.
Leake will officially become constable on Aug. 17 after training someone to take over his Sheriff’s Office position and completing a weeklong constable school.
It was Ballard’s wife, Linda, who first encouraged Leake to pursue her husband’s position. She approached him at her husband’s funeral.
“It was really emotional for me,” Leake said.
Jimmy Ballard got Leake involved in Shriners International, a philanthropic organization that raised money for Shriners Hospitals for Children and burn units.
Leake thanked the Burnet County Commissioners Court, the sheriff, other Burnet County officials, and, “especially, the Ballard family for entrusting me with his legacy.” He pointed out that Ballard left quite a legacy with more than 20 years of constable experience.
“I still see Jimmy doing this, so it was hard for me to think of stepping into his shoes,” Leake added.