Over the last 12 years that Kay Schwartz has served as Whitley County Clerk, if you went into her office to pay your car taxes or any number of other things, you were just as likely to get waited on by Kay as you were one of her deputy clerks most days. I know. I speak from experience.
If Kay was in her office, she was usually busy working either answering questions for somebody either in person or on the phone, looking something up on the computer or waiting on customers.
She was the kind of official that wouldn’t ask her employees to do anything she wouldn’t do herself. A case in point is washing dishes.
Kay’s Williamsburg office has a kitchen area inside it. The ladies who work in her office like to cook fairly often and are pretty darn good at it I might add. (If I worked there I would weigh 400 pounds…LOL.)
They rotate washing dishes with a different person scheduled to do so each week. As county clerk, Kay didn’t have to help wash the dishes, but whenever her week came around in the rotation she would do so if she was there in the office that day. This is just the kind of person she is and one of the things that I have always admired about her.
For those that don’t know, Kay officially resigned and retired effective Nov. 30 after working nearly 44 years full-time at the Whitley County Clerk’s Office. This doesn’t include two years she worked there part-time in high school either.
I think it goes without saying that Kay will be missed by many, but you can’t blame her for wanting to retire and spend more time with her grandchildren. She has earned it.
I wish her well.
Kay will still be in the office for much December getting accounts closed or transferred and other obligations so if you hurry down there, you still might have a chance to see her.
Whitley County Judge-Executive Pat White Jr. appointed Carolyn Willis on Monday as the interim county clerk until next year’s special election.
Carolyn has worked for nearly 26 years at the county clerk’s office, and probably knows the office about as well as Kay does. She plans to run for the remainder of Kay’s unexpired term in office, and has a strong chance of winning that race next year. I wish her well.
Unlike those working at state or national publications or media outlets, in community journalism you often know the people you are writing about. Many become friends over the years.
Sometimes you get to write about positive things, such as Kay’s retirement.
Other times you write about sadder things, such as the death of a friend, which is something that I have never gotten used to doing.
This was one of those weeks as I found myself writing about the death of former Williamsburg Fire Chief James Privett, who I have had the privilege of knowing the entire time I have worked at the News Journal.
When it comes budget time, Williamsburg Mayor Roddy Harrison has often gone to his department heads and told them that if they can produce some cost savings in their respective departments that he will look at employee pay raises.
When Roddy did that with James, he would usually get the cuts that he asked for and then some. James took many things about his job seriously, and trying to keep the budget down and under control was always one of them.
James was a good fire chief, a good person and a good friend, who passed away on Thanksgiving Day following a brief battle with cancer. He had just gotten diagnosed with the disease about one month ago. If you have to die from cancer, I guess going quickly is about as much as you can hope for.
Rest easy James. My condolences go out to his family.