Polk County residents have been fortunate for more than three decades with "one of their own" in the Polk County Clerk's Office. The trend will continue into the foreseeable future.Polk County native …
Polk County residents have been fortunate for more than three decades with "one of their own" in the Polk County Clerk's Office.
The trend will continue into the foreseeable future.
Polk County native Jackie Rogers was elected County Clerk this past election, receiving her oath of office in Septembeer.
She is replacing retired Angie Sanford, another Polk native who managed the office for well over 30 years.
Rogers stopped by the Cleveland Daily Banner last week to talk about her first four months in office, and the challenging learning process.
She does not anticipate any significant changes in the Polk County Clerk's Office, although she hopes for some improvements as she and her four-employee staff move forward.
She said she made a few minor changes.
She has increased office time for her clerk in the Ducktown branch office on Tuesday and Thursday, having someone on hand until 6 p.m. The office previously was open only from 8:30 to 3:30, but now assistance is available until 6 p.m. on the two days it's open in the Ducktown Community Center.
Rogers explored the possibility of keeping the main office at the courthouse in Benton open until 6 p.m. "No one was coming in late, making it a waste of time and personnel," she said.
The new Polk County Clerk said her biggest challenge, and a major issue for her staff, is learning all the responsibilities of her office, including what they can and cannot do.
She said she is working closely with state authorities in attempting to smooth out the ability of her staff to manage the day-to-day the operation of the Polk County Clerk's Office.
An advantage is that one of her clerks, Deneen Firestone, is a holdover in the office. The other three, Whitney Nelson, Alicia Lewallen and April Tidwell — like Rogers — are newcomers. Tidwell works in the Ducktown office.
Rogers also has the advantage of a long employment history in finance, management and business.
She attended Benton Elementary School, and then Polk County High School, where she graduated in 1992.
After finishing her secondary education, she went to work for People's Bank in Benton for several years. She then took a position with the Bank of Cleveland, where she stayed a couple of years.
Brad Ramsey of Benton Shooter's Supply then hired Rogers, and she advanced to become his "right-hand assistant."
She remained with the Benton firm for approximately 20 years, before deciding to campaign for the Clerk's Office job when Sanford announced plans to retire.
Although they are very different people, they have a lot of similarities with their personal knowledge of the community and its residents.
Rogers feels her knowledge of the community was what lifted her over the top in winning the election. She said it was that, and "knocking on a lot of doors."
She also praised the support of her family, especially parents Ray and Linda Keith. "They're my biggest fans, and supporters," she said.
It also was a double dip for her parents. They not only campaigned for Jackie, but also her sister, Melissa Keith. Melissa pulled off a surprise when she defeated the incumbent for the Clerk of the Courts Office.
"She told me she ran for the wrong office, because she's been busier than I have (since the election)," Jackie Rogers said with a laugh.
There's a third sister, Jennifer (Jan), but she's not into politics ... at least not at this time. With the success of her siblings, who knows?
Jackie Rogers says winning the election is one of her all-time great accomplishments, and she is looking forward to serving the people of Polk County.
She admits her greatest achievement is being a good mom to her children, daughter Amber, 21, and son, Nathan, 23. Amber is a sophomore at Chattanooga State, and Nathan a senior at the University of Tennessee.
For now, she has a little less time for family. Her time is currently monopolized by her learning and discovery process in the Polk County Clerk's Office.
Rogers said she realizes it is a challenge, but she couldn't be more thrilled. "I've always wanted to work in this office," she said.
She wasn't able to work things out in the past, but Polk County voters have now given her the opportunity.
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