Settling into a new office
by Emanuel County Live | January 29, 2013 2:28 pm
by KATELYN MOORE
Newly-elected Clerk of Court Kristin Cannady Hall has been in office almost a month now, and she says that she has enjoyed every day.
“Its been a very good month,” she says. “Everyone has been so accepting and willing to move forward with the technology changes I’m making. I’ve worked hard to bring [the office] to where I want it to be and move forward with an already good office. There’s a new challenge every day.”
Hall’s husband, Mitch, with whom she co-owns Kwik Shop, is feeling the challenges as well. “My being up here has required Mitch to do a lot more of the Kwik Shop stuff,” Hall explains. “I’m still handling the payroll and the taxes at home, but I think I did more than he realized. He’s doing well, but he’s had to pick up some things that he hasn’t had to do before.”
Hall says that the couple’s 2-year-old, Camden, is adjusting just fine to his mother’s new responsibilities.
However, Mitch isn’t the only one who is busy. Hall says that the Clerk of Court’s office averages over 30 visitors a day. “This is a very busy office, and I think most of Emanuel County wouldn’t realize that,” she says. “You see a lot of people that you normally wouldn’t see, and they’ve all been wonderful and supportive. They’ve helped me learn some things, as well, and I want their ideas as to what could make things better up here. Everyone has been very receptive to that.”
Hall explains that the office handles a myriad of tasks and records. “We handle a little bit of everything if its legal,” she says. The Clerk of Court’s office keeps track of fines, land acquisition records, tax or medical liens, passports, and all criminal or civil filings.
“We have to protect [the files] no matter what. If there is a tornado, I have to be here right after to make sure the records are okay,” she explains.
The office also handles Superior Court, State Court and Juvenile Court records, as well as adoptions and discharge papers for military personnel.
“I really can’t even begin to tell you how much we have here,” she says of their files, which also include plats and deeds, cemetery plats, and sewage plats, which she describes as “huge, almost like bedsheets.”
“We do a lot of paperwork and record-keeping, and it has to be good record-keeping, because all the records in the file room here are official copies. Everyone has to go off of what we have, so if we have a mistake, it causes confusion.” Hall gives the example of land records, which, when filed, are stamped with the time and date of filing. “They have to be filed in that order,” she says, explaining that trouble could be caused by misfiling.
“It is a lot of checking and making sure things are right, then keeping them secure,” she says.
“I have a very good staff to help me keep track of all these,” she explains. “It is definitely not something you can do by yourself. I don’t think any good Clerk could do it without their staff. You can’t check everything and micromanage to that level. You have to have the trust and confidence in your staff to know what they’re doing, and I do. They’ve all been here ten years or more, and they’re very efficient and effective.”
There are some things that Hall has to handle herself, such as mail from the prison system, open records requests, and legal records. “The staff specializes in different areas, and they have a good system where they designate tasks amongst themselves,” she explains.
“I was overwhelmed, humbled, thankful, grateful and excited,” Hall says of when she won the election. “To win without a runoff was a shock.”
She continues, “When you have three people and you’re in a small county, everyone is well known and you have allegiances and people have different reasons for supporting different candidates. A runoff is almost inevitable. To have won without that was very humbling. There were people that in no way could know me completely that put their trust in me, and I’m still overwhelmed by that. When you’re my age, it is a lot that so many people would be able to trust you to look over so much in this county and to be someone to deal with the county at this level.”
“‘Humbled’ is my continuing emotion with it,” she says. “Of course, we were thrilled and excited, and the reality sets in and you realize how much trust people have placed in you.”
She also pointed out that, given the older voter demographic, the votes really meant a lot. “The ones that vote, the vote means so much to them, and to have them use that on you–that’s huge!”
“I’ve had the opportunity to go speak with the Kiwanis Club, and they were very receptive. When you follow in behind someone who’s been here for forty years, you don’t really know,” she says, “but its been great!”
Hall is very adamant about her office’s open-door policy.
“I would love anyone to come in and, if we can help them, we will. I would love to meet them through this process. It was a huge county and we had eight weeks [during her campaign time], so I didn’t meet everyone,” she says. “Any time someone needs me, whether it is before the office opens or after it closes, I’m accessible. Get in touch with me and I’ll be more than glad to accommodate what I can.”