Now that longtime county employee Virginia Dickson has been appointed as Somervell County interim district clerk by 249th Judicial District Judge Wayne Bridewell and 18th Judicial District Judge Sydney Hewlett, arrangements are being made for her office to be moved from the county annex building to the old courthouse.
Dickson, whose title had been chief deputy of the county and district clerk’s office under District Clark Michelle Reynolds, was appointed on Nov. 1 as the interim district clerk. Reynolds had been serving as both district clerk and county clerk, but Texas law mandates that the two positions have to be separate for counties with populations over 8,000.
Dickson’s 17th anniversary of her employment in the clerk’s office is right around the corner — on Jan. 15.
Dickson was one of six original applicants for the position from the job when it was posted, from Sept. 3-25. One of the six did not qualify because that person resides in Johnson County.
Judge Bridewell previously announced that four people were interviewed for the position during an executive session on Oct. 2, with one applicant being a no-show.
Bridewell made a motion to appoint Dickson as interim district clerk, and Hewlett seconded the motion. With both judges agreeing on Dickson’s appointment, the judges ruled that her term would begin on Nov. 1, stating that it would be “for the remaining term until a district clerk is elected and takes office on Jan. 1, 2021.”
“I was excited,” Dickson said of being appointed. “I am very grateful the judges had confidence in me to take over this position.”
Dickson was born in Erath County, in Dublin. She and her husband, Jeff, have five children and 14 grandchildren.
Reynolds was elected as Somervell County’s previously combined position of county and district clerk in 2015, after the retirement of Candy Garrett. Reynolds ran unopposed for reelection in 2018, and continues to serve as the county clerk.
“I feel that Virginia was definitely the most qualified,” said Reynolds, whose previous experience included 6-1/2 years as a deputy district court clerk in Hood County. “She has a lot of experience. But, ultimately, the judges made that decision based on experience and knowledge and they made the best decision for the county.
“I support her, and told her I’ll be here for her, anything she needs. The clerk’s position is definitely not a position you step into and just know it all. It’s best to have experience.”
Dickson said, “It’s definitely getting busier. I have one full-time employee and I will have one part-time who will be starting possibly next week.”
Once the move to the old courthouse is complete, Dickson said, there will be two rooms for employees, plus one for files and one for storage of district court exhibits.
Dickson noted that she plans to run in the March 3 election in hopes of retaining the district clerk position. Dec. 9 will be the early filing deadline, she said, and early voting will be Feb. 17-28.
Somervell County Judge Danny Chambers said that moving the district clerk’s office out of the annex building into the old courthouse won’t happen immediately. Bids will have to be submitted, and even then contractors may not be able to begin right away.
“I hope it will (be completed) in two or three months, depending on the contractors,” Chambers said.
Although the county population grew beyond the 8,000 mark almost a decade ago, the state government was not pressing for the change to be made. There was also no particular cause for urgency at the local level, Chambers explained, adding, “The Commissioners Court never decided to move forward.”
Reynolds noted, “We had planned on (the change happening) in 2021, but the commissioners decided to make it happen now, with the approval of the secretary of state. It’s a necessary step, required by law.”