LOCAL FOLKS: Friendly, experienced staff awaits public at circuit clerk's office

By Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – Something’s always happening in the Lee County circuit clerk’s office.
Look for even more in 2011 with statewide, districtwide and countywide elections on tap.
Handling business through it all are Carol Horton, Dawn Coon, Terry Bradley and Carol Timmons.
Enter the office door just inside the security system for the Lee County Justice Center and you’ll see one of them approach the elongated counter.
“How can we help?” is the common question.
Two days after last week’s special elections, Horton was out sick, but the others were cheery and social – ribbing each other about their personal foibles, but supportive of their teamwork to assist the citizenry.
“We get calls about all kinds of things, and we try to help, if we can,” said Bradley of Eggville, who’s worked in the office about four years.
She recalled feeling a bit helpless with few answers for a caller, who complained she’d lost money at a drive-through car wash.
During 2010, the office issued 463 marriage licenses – even with one fellow taking out two applications with two different women within weeks of each other.
When he returned with one of them to pick up the license, Dawn Coon said they just laid the paperwork out and asked him which one he wanted.
“Oh, he swore one of them was his brother,” she laughed. “But we watched and that woman smacked him all the way to the car.”
Timmons said they usually can predict which couples will be successful.
The four-year employee said odds are against the applicants who say that if it doesn’t work out, they can just come back for a divorce.
Odds also are against the couples who get into big arguments right there at the counter.
Bradley said she especially likes to sort the daily mail and to assist elderly citizens, who come in for absentee ballots.
“Many of them are quite the characters,” she said. “Some of them are about to take trips and they’re all excited about where they’re going.”
Coon, of Tupelo, has more than 15 years experience in the circuit clerk’s office.
She said few surprises come to her any more. “I think I’ve seen it all,” she said.
Another key player in the office is David Baker, who works part time on voter registration and election maps. He was out last week the same day Horton was sick.
While all the women are deputy clerks, Horton is designated to act for Circuit Clerk Joyce Loftin when she isn’t available.
Their work takes place on the Justice Center’s first floor, while colleagues handle circuit court duties upstairs.
As for 2011, they all say they’ve got experience under their belts and are ready for whatever the big election cycle brings.
“We know what to expect,” Timmons said.
Coon said she begins making “my list” for election plans many months ahead.
As election time gets closer, Coon said Loftin will come around to check on what’s needed.
“Where’s your list?” she said Loftin will ask.
It all comes together, Coon notes, “because we all work really well together.”
Contact Patsy R. Brumfield at (662) 678-1596 or patsy.brumfield@journalinc.com.

Circuit clerk’s office
The chief office for the circuit court and elections in the county. Maintains voter rolls, assists election commissioners in purging voter rolls, assists election officials to conduct primary and general elections.
Handles applications for marriage licenses, voter registration, fines and restitution payments ordered by circuit court. The office may handle other duties as prescribed by state and local officials.