• Bob Vlach, Woodford Sun Staff

Hughes brings lifetime of experiences to his work

ISAAC HUGHES was hired as building official/inspector in Woodford County last April. He regularly takes his camera with him whenever he leaves the office to do an inspection. Hughes succeeded longtime building inspector Paul Noel Jr., who retired last year. (Photo by Bob Vlach)

When Isaac Hughes was crawling underneath old houses to repair or replace failing floors, he never imagined those work experiences and others in his life would help prepare him for his career as a building inspector. The Zion Hill native had many jobs in the years before being hired as Woodford County’s building official/inspector last April. For most of his adult life, Hughes worked on old buildings, built decks and room additions. He was also a dishwasher at the Governor’s Mansion during the Martha Layne Collins administration and worked at a GE factory in Frankfort for about nine years before it shut down. He sometimes took side jobs to earn a little extra. But as a single father of two, Hughes knew he couldn’t continue climbing and cutting down trees for extra money. “If I fall out of that tree,” he remembers telling a friend, “not only is it going to change my life, but (it’s going to change) my kids’ life.” So Hughes got a job doing landscape work for the City of Georgetown’s downtown beautification department. Two years later, he earned his certification as a building inspector so he could advance his career in Georgetown. “Like I always tell people,” explains Hughes, “where you are is like a step to where you’re going.” A strong work ethic that took root when he ran cross country has continued in the years since Hughes graduated from high school in 1980. No matter what he does, Hughes says, he wants his team to be the best. He views being a county building inspector as a chance to build “a better opportunity because of what we did today.” He wants to protect the homeowner, and ensure a home is built to code so it’s safe for that family and the families who will occupy that home in future. He also takes pride in being able to help contractors find better, more cost-effective solutions to their problems. Before he found his path to becoming a building inspector for the City of Georgetown, Hughes moved to Austin, Texas, and Charlotte, N. C., for job opportunities that didn’t work out. He eventually came back to Zion Hill, where he raised his two children. Hughes and his girlfriend, Ponice Raglin Cruse, still live in his great-grandfather’s house “On the Hill,” a community located in Scott County, but only a stone’s throw away from Woodford County. Contrary to his life’s dreams, Hughes never did start his own construction business or earn a degree in architecture from Western Kentucky University. He does, however, play a vital role in the design of homes and other structures as a county building inspector. So he did find a way to do what he loves. And when he retires as a building inspector, Hughes hopes to embark on his next career as a professional photographer. It’s an interest he has had since he bought his own one-step camera when he was 16. Having raised his children, Hughes says he and his girlfriend now have time to pursue a shared passion for photography. Hughes describes photography as an opportunity to capture moments in time. He and his family have few timeless moments of his grandfather, who lived past 100 years old. “I wish I’d taken more pictures with him. I wish I had more pictures,” laments Hughes, 54.

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