Recently, former Clay County Clerk Mary Brown was named the director of the office, with her first official day in the position March 27.
"I felt the job would be challenging because it is different than what I had been doing the last eight years," Brown, who was serving as a deputy clerk to Victoria Wheeler, told The Brazil Times. "It's sad to leave the clerk's office after being part of it for so long, but I am excited and looking forward to the interesting aspects of the job."
According to Adult Probation Officer/Community Corrections Advisory Board President Lee Ann Thomas, Brown was selected from 20 applicants and an extensive interview process.
"A selection committee was created which narrowed the field to five, who were interviewed, and then the final three candidates where chosen to be interviewed by the board," Thomas said. "It was an extremely tough decision but in the end, the board voted for Mary because we were impressed with her quality of work."
Thomas added the position of director is transitioning to more of an administrative role, which the board felt fit right into Brown's skill set.
"We do have a part-time and a full-time detention officer," Thomas said. "Also, the Department of Correction (DOC) wants to make the office more rehabilitative in nature."
Brown said making the position more administrative would make the transition period a smoother one.
"It should fit into the same things I have been doing the past eight years," she said about the director's position, which is grant funded. "I will have to ease my way in and learn a few things first, but I don't foresee having many difficulties during the transition."
Brown is taking the place of former Director John Tabasco, who resigned from the position Jan. 8. Thomas said Community Corrections Executive Board Member Steve Sutherland has "kept the train moving" during the applicant search.
"I want to help this office make a positive transition with a community supervised approach," Sutherland told The Brazil Times. "We want to get immediate treatment and care for individuals with substance abuse and push to reduce incarceration levels and the recidivism of offenders."
Brown, who was given the William "Bill" Mansard Outstanding Clerk of the Circuit Court Award in September 2008, said she hopes to continue the strong relationship she has established in her time working in the courthouse. Prior to being Clay County Clerk from 2001-08, Brown had worked as an assistant in the Clay County Prosecutor's Office.
"In my time working at the courthouse, I have gotten to know the judges, prosecutor and law enforcement officers, which Community Corrections is directly connected with," she said. "It is important to keep those relationships, along with the connection to the probation officers, and help the county become strong."
Thomas said she is confident in Brown's ability to continue the progress of the office into the future.
"Mary really excelled as clerk, and she brought so many new things to the county that has made everyone's job easier," Thomas told The Brazil Times. "The one thing that stick out in my mind the most is the DoxPop system where we are connected to other counties in the state and can quickly find an offender's criminal history."
As director, Brown will be working with Community Services Coordinator Terri Haddon, Case Manager Jamie Ringo, Road Crew Supervisor Evan Sutherland and Home Detention Officer Logan Whitman to keep the Community Corrections Department running at the best of its ability.
"There is a good staff in place, Mary has a great personality and is well respected, not only in the courthouse, but also in the community," Thomas said. "Mary also understands the inner workings of the courthouse and I believe with the staff and her skills, the program will make a smooth transition and remain intact."
Although she is entering a new venue of her career, Brown is ready to step into the role.
"One of my goals is to implement new programs and continue the organizational methods as the DOC sees fit," she said. "I have been working with county and state government for years and I am really looking forward to the challenges and unique aspects this job will present."