First Financial Service Corp. in Elizabethtown, Ky., said it had a new chairman and that its chief executive will step down for health reasons.

Walter Dee Huddleston, a former Democratic senator from Kentucky, announced plans to step down as chairman, though he will remain on the board. Huddleston has been a director at First Financial for 46 years, including the last 15 as chairman. He will be succeeded by J. Stephen Mouser, president of a family owned cabinet manufacturer and a director since 1997.

The $1.2 billion-asset company also said Friday that B. Keith Johnson is stepping down as CEO to focus on his ongoing battle with multiple sclerosis. Johnson, who has been the CEO since 1997, will continue to serve in an advisory role and will become the company's vice chairman.

Gregory S. Schreacke, First Financial's president, will take over principal management responsibility for the company and its bank; he will also join the board. He joined First Financial in 2004 as the chief financial officer.

Dann Small will join First Financial as chief lending officer, and the bank hired Bob Critchfield as chief credit officer. Some of the appointments are pending regulatory approval.

First Financial said on Thursday that it would sell four branches in Indiana to meet capital requirements from a consent order. The company reported a loss of $22.2 million through the first nine months of 2011, as it has struggled with credit problems.

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