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GOVERNMENT: Tim Sanders to serve as Jefferson County’s Interim Clerk of the Court

Lazaro Aleman: Greene Publishing, Inc.

As of Wednesday morning, Nov. 1, the Jefferson County Clerk of Court's office has a new head at its helm.

Tim Sanders was administered the oath of office by Jefferson County Judge Bobby Plaines on Wednesday afternoon. Sanders’ wife, Mary Ann, and his daughter, Sara, accompanied him at the swearing-in ceremony, in the courtroom. “I’m honored to be appointed and to work with the fine, knowledgeable staff in the (Jefferson County’s) Clerk of Court’s office,” said Sanders.

He touched on the similarities between Jefferson and Madison counties, in terms of the two being small, rural, fiscally constraint counties, having great people, and being named after two of the foremost founding fathers.

Sanders said he had great memories of the Jefferson County courthouse from the days when he was a surveyor in the 1980s and often had to go there to research records. No matter if he came dirty or disheveled, from the field, he was always welcomed, he said. He also had special words of praise for former Clerk of Court Eleanor Hawkins, who he said impressed him with her humility, graciousness and love of the office. “That’s what public service is about,” said Sanders. “I’m excited to be here and to do my best.”

Chief Circuit Judge Jonathan Sjostrom, of the Second Judicial Circuit, appointed Sanders to the position on Wednesday, Oct. 25. Sanders served as Madison County Clerk of Court for 24 years, retiring on Dec. 31 of last year. He also served as president of Florida Court Clerks & Comptrollers in 2004-2005.

Sanders said the call to serve as Jefferson County Clerk of Court came as a surprise; it wasn’t something he applied for. He said the call came last Friday from the administrator of the Second Judicial Circuit, who asked him if he was interested in serving.

“I said, let me think about it and call you back,” Sanders said he told the administrator.

He said that after thinking about it over the weekend, talking with his wife, and praying over it, he decided to accept the position, being familiar with Jefferson County.

“We’re similar counties,” said Sanders. “I think I can help.”

He said he had visited with the Jefferson County staff this past Monday and found everyone to be knowledgeable, dedicated and “a great bunch of people.”

Sanders said he was just getting acclimated to retirement when the call came, which explains his initial hesitation. His wife, he said, retired two years ago and is further along in the process of enjoying post-retirement, something he was beginning to do. Even so, he said, he was looking forward to serving again.

“I hope to do good for the people of Jefferson County,” said Sanders. “We share a lot of knowledge and ideas across the river. It’s a privilege that I’m looking forward to.”

Sanders will fill the position of Clerk of Court on an interim basis, until the former Jefferson County Clerk of Court Kirk Reams’ legal situation is resolved.

Governor Rick Scott suspended Reams from office on Wednesday, Oct. 18, following Reams’ arrest two days prior for a misdemeanor charge of petit theft. The charge stemmed from an investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) of allegations made by his former girlfriend of a nude photo-taking session in the courthouse.

In the process of the investigation, the FDLE learned that Reams had given a county-owned laptop computer to the girlfriend, for her personal use.

Reams was first elected as Jefferson County Clerk of the Court in 2006. He received no opposition in the last two elections. His term ends in 2018.

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