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Focal point of order

Thursday, January 17, 2008

The Fulton County Clerk's Office is operated by a team consisting of Karen Coffman, Amy Abney, Michele Tomlinson and Fulton County Clerk Vickie Bishop. Photo by Jody Shackelford
Reporter's note: This is the second article in a series on elected offices in Fulton County.

The county clerk's office maintains records of the courthouse and is the focal point for the orderly flow of paperwork through the courts of the county.

"We have so many different functions. We wear a lot of hats around here, possibly more then any other county office. We are the county and circuit clerk combined," Fulton County Clerk Vickie Bishop said.

According to Bishop, the primary duties of the office revolve around filing, docketing, attending court, issuing of notices, records management and reporting to the administrative office of the courts.

It is the responsibility of the circuit clerk to prepare a list of prospective jurors, docket cases of the respective courts, issue summonses, subpoenas, writs, warrants and swear in witnesses, according to Bishop.

Bishop said the most involved part of her office currently is the election process, and it has seen a lot of changes.

"The federal government has got involved. Now we not only have guidelines from the state but also from the federals. Since I have been here it is the biggest change that has come about. Of course, we are computerized now, but the election and the accountability for that has changed the most," she said.

Most days in the county clerk's office are routine but that is not to say there is never any excitement. According to Bishop things got interesting when a man demanded a copy of his marriage license.

"Shawn Cox came in one morning and wanted his marriage license -- for him and Chelsea Clinton. We said, 'Is she with you?' He said she didn't have to be and he wanted the license. We tried to explain the process to him, but as time went on he just got more and more tense," Bishop recounts.

According to Bishop, Cox had to be escorted out of the Fulton County Clerk's Office by Salem Police Chief Albert Roork and Fulton County Sheriff Walter Dillinger.

"He scaled the wall at the White House. They filed federal charges against him up there. They didn't do anything with him (in Washington), just kind of slapped him on the hand and sent him back to Arkansas. The National Enquirer did a story about him after that," she said.

The county clerk deals with the records of decedent estate cases and maintains all records of guardianship, adoptions and the complete permanent record of the proceedings of the County Quorum Court including minutes, ordinances, resolutions and an index to provide easy access to the information, according to Bishop.

As clerk of the county court, the county clerk maintains the county court records including all business pertaining to annexation, incorporations, county purchases, election results, proclamations, levy of taxes, board appointments, bonds, right of way acquisition, contracts and agreements signed by the county judge.

Bishop said, the county clerk is the official bookkeeper of the county government and usually handles the payroll for all county employees. As clerk of the county court, the clerk has the duty of keeping a regular account between the treasurer and the county.

The records which are kept by the county clerk are vital to the efficient and effective operation of county government, she said.

The county clerk's office can be a busy place to work but Bishop says she enjoys it.

"Our work atmosphere is really good in here. I enjoy working with my deputies and we have a good working relationship. I really enjoy working with the public, seeing people and helping them," Bishop said.

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