Graceful exit

Published 12:00 am Monday, January 30, 2006

Ann Tate, Crenshaw County Circuit Clerk, has announced that she will not seek re-election. She is currently completing her fourth term in office, which will end Jan. of 2007. At that time, Tate will have served 24 years as Circuit Clerk.

Tate, who is originally from Coffee County, was elected as Circuit Clerk in 1982 and took office in 1983. Tate’s husband, Morris, is originally from Glenwood, and the couple moved to the area in 1976 when he became the engineer for Crenshaw County. They have been married for 39 years.

Having been in the Circuit Clerk’s office since 1983, Tate admits that she has seen several changes over the years. One of these includes a 60 percent increase in court case filings since 1983. These cases include anything from traffic cases and divorce cases to child support cases.

&uot;That’s not an unusual load for Crenshaw County,&uot; Tate said. &uot;It’s happening everywhere.&uot;

However, Tate points out that she only has three full-time employees and one part-time employee currently on staff, the same number she had in 1984.

Another big change Tate has seen over her years of serving as Circuit Clerk is a 200 percent increase in the amount of money collected.

&uot;We currently collect approximately $1.5 million a year, whereas in 1983, we were only handling about $375,000.&uot;

As she points out the increase in the workload while operating with the same number of staff members since 1983, Tate brings out the third biggest change she has seen in her office.

&uot;In 1983, all of the record-keeping was manual,&uot; she said. &uot;Now, everything is computer-based. And, we are currently imaging records so we can retrieve them electronically.&uot;

Tate said that the Circuit Clerk’s office was also on the verge of offering options for attorneys to electronically file documents.

&uot;The computer has helped us tremendously with keeping up with the increases in the work load over the years,&uot; Tate said.

When it comes to the success of her staff and office, Tate gives three specific reasons.

&uot;First and foremost, we work for the public, for everyone who walks through that door,&uot; she said. &uot;We serve the public. That’s why we’re here.&uot;

And, with all of the changes and developments in technology, Tate said that the Circuit Clerk’s office has been willing to make the necessary changes in order to keep up with and to advance their own systems.

Also, Tate and her office staff have taken advantage of every resource for advanced training, including participating in continuing education courses.

When it comes to her staff, Tate sings their praises and deeply appreciates all of the hard work they have done for her and for the Circuit Clerk’s office.

&uot;Any official is only as good as the people who work for you,&uot; she said. &uot;I can’t say enough good things about these ladies.&uot;

The staff in the Circuit Clerk’s office consists of Jeannie Gibson, Twyla Smith, Sherrie Sipper and Julie Sanders.

When it comes to making plans for her retirement, Tate is looking forward to spending more time with her family, especially her four grandchildren.

&uot;I love to travel, read and scrapbook,&uot; she said. &uot;Plus, I look forward to spending more time in my church activities.&uot;

Tate also plans to stay very involved in the Crenshaw County Domestic Violence Task Force.

&uot;I am so grateful to the citizens of Crenshaw County for allowing me this privilege to serve them,&uot; she said. &uot;I am certainly going to miss working with the public and with all of the agencies we serve.&uot;

Tate and her husband, Morris, have three married sons and four grandchildren.

Their son, Jim Tate, is the pastor of Mt.

Zion Baptist Church in Brantley. Their son, Will Tate, is employed with J.W.M. Engineering in Luverne, and their son, Matt Tate, is currently serving on active duty with his National Guard unit in Iraq.