Polk clerk of court Owens to retire

Published 6:39 pm Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Judge to appoint new clerk until 2012 election
Polk County Clerk of Superior Court Charlene T. Owens is retiring after working in the courthouse almost 35 years.

Charlene Owens

Owens began working for the clerk’s office as deputy clerk in May 1977 and later became assistant clerk for then superior clerk of court Judy P. Arledge.
After Arledge retired in 1998, Owens ran for the position and was elected as clerk of court. She was subsequently re-elected to three four-year terms.
“I have enjoyed working in the clerk of courts office for the past 34 years,” Owens said. “During that time I have met many interesting people, made lifelong friendships and been involved in the constant updating of the office with computers and data systems. I have a wonderful staff that goes beyond the scope of their duties to help the citizens of Polk County.”
Owens’ last day will be Dec. 31.
Owens, a Democrat, will have slightly less than three years left of her current term when she retires, so a Democrat will have to be appointed to fill her position. The Democratic Party Executive Committee will make a recommendation for the position and the chief superior court judge will make the final appointment.
An election in November 2012 will determine who will fill the remaining two years of Owens’ unexpired term. Another election will be held in 2014 to choose the clerk of superior court for the next four-year term, according to the Polk County Board of Elections.
During Owens’ terms, she was chosen as Region C Clerk of the Year and served on numerous boards and committees in Polk County.
Owens and her staff also had several challenges in the courthouse throughout her terms.  They had to move the offices so the historic courthouse could be renovated on two different occasions.
“That was quite an experience to move six rooms of equipment, files and books and set up a new office while staying open,” she said.
The duties at the courthouse also grew over Owens’ years. She said she now hears and rules on cases that were formerly heard only by a district or superior court judge.
“Our case filings have tripled in the last 10 years and we are seeing more foreclosures,” said Owens. “Where I normally held hearings on about 10 foreclosures a month, I now have 10 or more a week.”
Most of the court employees have worked with Owens for many years and say Owens has always been fair and cared for the community.
“She’s always been fair and very knowledgeable and helpful,” said Linda Leake, who has worked with Owens for 18 years. “People in the community really do like her because she cares and because she is so helpful. She’s going to be sorely missed.”
Pam Hyder, who has also worked with Owens for almost 18 years, said Owens is willing to help anyone.
“She went out of her way to help people in more ways than one,” Hyder said. “She spent the majority of her life here.”
Jamie Scruggs, who has worked with Owens for seven years, said having to move the offices twice went smoothly because of Owens’ leadership.
“She has been one of the most professional and compassionate bosses that I have ever worked for,” Scruggs said. “Her presence in the office will be greatly missed.”
Owens said she will miss the interaction with citizens of this great county but feels it’s time to move on.
“I now have a granddaughter and hope to spend more time with her during my retirement,” she said.
Owens is married to Thomas Owens and has two children, Caitlin and Ryan, and a one-year-old granddaughter, MaKenna. A native of Polk County, Owens is the daughter of Charles and Kathleen Tucker of Mill Spring and daughter-in-law of Norris Owens of Green Creek.
“I would like to thank the people of Polk County for the opportunity to serve as their clerk of court,” Owens said. “It has been a wonderful experience and I have always tried to treat each person with the respect they deserve no matter what their situation was.”

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