Upson County Superior Court Clerk Teresa Harper has been named District Clerk of the Year for 2014. She was selected for the title by the clerks in the 17 counties that make up the fourth, fifth and sixth districts of the state and was also selected to serve as Chairperson of the Clerks Committee. Harper was surprised by her staff at the Clerk’s Office with a reception Thursday afternoon at the Upson County Courthouse, where friends and colleagues spoke on why they feel she is so deserving of the honor.
Retired Superior Court Judge Paschal English was the first to speak and praised Harper for being such an asset to the community. He noted that while there may be a lot of negative things that go on in Upson County, there are a lot of positives as well, with Harper being one of those. He commended her for all of her hard work since taking office in 2009 and noted she is a true asset to the community.
District Attorney Scott Ballard has worked with Harper for many years and considers her to be a wonderful friend as well as a colleague. He told the crowd that he feels Harper makes such an exceptional Superior Court Clerk because she truly has a servant’s heart and wants to help others as much as possible. Her kindness to all who she comes in contact with is what Ballard noted sets her apart.
“Teresa makes it her life’s purpose to know you well enough so she can help you before you even know what you need,” said Ballard.
He also praised her for being integral in bringing the area into the 21st century by not only digitizing all the documents her office has, but also setting up a secure file sharing system for the justice agencies of the Griffin Judicial Circuit, which includes Upson, Spalding, Pike and Fayette counties. Through the secure system an inmate’s information is entered once in the system and then shared with the other offices so everyone will have the same records. Ballard concluded by saying what a pleasure it is to work with Harper.
Another person who spoke about Harper at the reception was Superior Court Judge Fletcher Sams, who agreed wholeheartedly with Ballard’s statement that she has a servant’s heart. Judge Sams told the story of when he first started coming to Upson County he would compare it to the way things were in Fayette County and had a tendency to use statements such as “that’s not how we do it in Fayette County.” He said that one day Harper ever so nicely mentioned to him that he may not want to do that because those who call Thomaston and Upson County home have a lot of pride in their town and they might not be so receptive to his statements.
“The thing is I still do it, however, now I say things like ‘they don’t treat us as good here as they do in Upson County.’ They don’t make us coffee, or bring us donuts or breakfast casseroles,” Judge Sams said with a smile.
He noted also that the service goes well beyond just delicious breakfast food and thanked Harper for working so hard to make it that way.
A true testament as to why Harper is deserving of the honor of being named District Clerk of the Year came from fellow Superior Court Clerk Tina Robinson of Fulton County. She stated that Harper had been a great help to all of the “newbies” who had recently taken office and was always available to offer advice.
“We all look forward to serving under you leadership,” said Robinson.
Harper thanked everyone for coming to the reception, which she noted was a total surprise. She told the crowd that the decision to run for Clerk of Superior Court was one that took her out of her comfort zone, but thanks to encouraging words from her father, her husband and District Attorney Scott Ballard, among others, she knew it was something she could do. She stated serving as Clerk is something she truly enjoys and she is thankful for the support of her staff, her family and the community.
Other speakers during the reception included Probate Judge Danielle McRae, local attorney Zack Davis, Lamar County Clerk Frank Abbott, Upson Chief Deputy Clerk Sandra Salter and Upson Deputy Clerk Jennifer Calvert. The fourth, fifth and sixth districts are made up of Carroll, Heard, Troup, Meriwether, Coweta, Fulton, DeKalb, Rockdale, Henry, Clayton, Fayette, Spalding, Butts, Monroe, Lamar, Pike and Upson Counties.
Ashley Biles can be reached by calling 706-647-5414 or on Twitter @AshleyBiles1