WINTERS - When you talk to Runnels County Precinct 2 Justice of the Peace Richard Hamilton, he makes it abundantly clear that he has always taken his position very seriously both in terms of getting criminals off the street and making the community a better place.

WINTERS - When you talk to Runnels County Precinct 2 Justice of the Peace Richard Hamilton, he makes it abundantly clear that he has always taken his position very seriously both in terms of getting criminals off the street and making the community a better place.

Hamilton recently announced that he will be stepping down from the elected position he’s held for almost 16 years to retire, so that David Sellers, elected March 6, could take office. He will officially leave office on March 19.

Over the years, Hamilton has had opponents in every election.

“But I won every one of them,” said Hamilton.

Hamilton has always been known as the “tough judge” making sure to set bonds he thinks that appropropriate for specific crimes, recently setting bonds for three drug offenders at $100,000 each.

And he makes sure to collect money and fines for crimes like hot checks as well.

“I’ve collected a lot of money for the citizens of Winters,” Hamilton said.

He is known for chasing down hot check writers and making sure businesses, organizations and even taxing entities are able to collect the money owed to them.

“I’ve collected checks as high as $6,800,” he said.

He said one of the toughest duties is pronouncing deaths and every circumstance is different.

But over the years, he’s also helped turn lives around like a young man he had arrested at Winters High School in class one day for truancy. He saw the young man a few years later at a football game.

“He told me he never missed another day of school and he got his life together,” Hamilton said.

Hamilton, 80, attended Ballinger High School and moved to Winters in 1953. Prior to his career as a J.P., Hamilton worked at Mansell Brothers (a John Deere dealership) for 22 years, at H & H Tar Service for 13 years and ran Bishop & Sons Dirt Service for eight years. He was a member of the Winters Volunteer Fire Department for 28 years before he was elected as J.P. He delivers Meals on Wheels and is a member of First Baptist Church of Winters.

He plans to take to the road on his Honda Gold Wing motorcycle and ride. He’s planning to take his wife to head to Custer, South Dakota and then to Yellowstone National Park. No matter what, he plans to ride.

“We ride every day,” Hamilton said. “Sometimes we go to San Angelo to get a banana split.”

His constituents say they will miss him.

“He is the best J.P. we’ve ever had,” said Ronnie Davis, a Winters resident. “He’s not afraid to mix it up.”