Henderson County: County Clerk set to retire after 6 terms

Published on Saturday, 8 March 2014 22:46 - Written by Betty Waters blw@tylerpaper.com

ATHENS — For Henderson County Clerk Gwen Moffeit, deciding not to seek re-election after her sixth term and 24 years in office was “a tough decision” because she says she thoroughly enjoys the job.

“But I just felt like it was time,” Ms. Moffeit said of her upcoming retirement at the end of the year and plans to spend more time with her grandchildren.

She remembers she first ran for office when former County Clerk Joe Dan Fowler approached her with the idea of following in his footsteps when he decided to retire.

“I was honored,” she said, recalling he taught her how to enjoy serving when she worked in the clerk’s office under Fowler.

Her first stint as an employee in the clerk’s office was when she was in her 20s.

After a few years, she left to have a child and several years later went to work for a land title company.

She eventually went back to work in the clerk’s office, starting as a temporary “fill-in“ employee, but later becoming a deputy clerk. Altogether, she worked in the clerk’s office eight years before she ran successfully for the county clerk’s job.

Ms. Moffeit said she decided to run because she has always enjoyed working with land records and loves people.

“My favorite part of the county clerk’s office working for the county has always been that I deal with people all day every day,” Ms. Moffeit said. “I love people. I just seem to connect to people. I have a genuine heart of willingness to serve and help people.”

She said she has no greater joy than serving a customer in the clerk’s office.

Another reason she finds the job satisfying is that it involves a variety of subjects, Ms. Moffeit said.

“We are responsible for recording all of the land records for the county, every land transaction when property changes hands or even if you need to go to the bank and borrow some money, a lot of times your land is put up as collateral and the paperwork is filed in our office,” she said.

Not only does the county clerk’s office file land records each day, but also it is responsible for maintaining and preserving those records.

The clerk’s office, Ms. Moffeit pointed out, is also the vital statistics registrar for all vital records for the county, including births, deaths and marriage records.

The Henderson County clerk’s office also provides a clerk for three courts: county court, county court at law No. 1 and county court at law No. 2. A clerk is required to be present anytime there is a hearing or anything goes before the judge in all of those courts, Ms. Moffeit said.

“I have five full-time criminal department clerks who process all the misdemeanor cases of the county,” Ms. Moffeit said. ‘And we have eight deputy clerks who take care of everything else. We handle civil cases and the appeals from the lower court.”

She added, “As county clerk, I am the official clerk to the commissioners court responsible for recording the minutes of all the action the commissioners court take.”

Ms. Moffeit said, “I’ve enjoyed the interaction with our county judge and our commissioners. I think it’s a wonderful group of hard-working people who care about Henderson County.”

Ms. Moffeit oversaw the switch of the county clerk’s office from printing books storing volumes of deed records to scanning and imaging the records on computers.

“That’s a major change I have seen in my years. It has worked out very well,” she said.

Another major conversion task is “right around the corner” that will face her successor and will be to upgrade and integrate court records, including justice of the peace offices, Ms. Moffeit said.

During her tenure, the county clerk’s office was moved from the courthouse to the courthouse annex. She credits the information technology department, the maintenance department and jail trusties for the smooth transition.

“We had sentimental ties to the courthouse, but we knew we needed more space, so when we were allowed the opportunity to have all the room we now have, we were excited about it,” Ms. Moffeit said.

In the annex, the county clerk’s office has a large storage area and criminal department on the second floor and also has a large area on the first floor where it conducts of business, such as registering cattle brands, issuing marriage licenses and birth certificates, paperwork for tax ID numbers and filing tax liens.

“That’s why I love the job. It’s interesting and there’s always something to do,” Ms. Moffeit said. “It’s challenging and yet rewarding.”

Counting her time as county clerk and as an employee prior to being elected clerk, Ms. Moffeit has served over 35 years.

“I’ve appreciated the job. It is a valuable position that voters entrusted me to do and I’m honored that they chose to re-elect me many times,” she said. “I’m so grateful. I’ve done my best. I will miss it but I do feel it is time to slow down.”