MOUNT VERNON — After 20 years as Knox County Clerk of Courts, Mary Jo Hawkins says it's time.
“I never really thought about [retirement] until a year ago,” she told the county commissioners on Tuesday morning. “My daughter was looking for property here. Then about eight months ago, all of a sudden it was done.
“My daughter recently moved to town in June with my two granddaughters. She needs me,” Hawkins said with a laugh.
Hawkins will retire on Aug. 31. Her term expires Dec. 21, 2020. She requested the commissioners appoint Christy Milligan Staton as acting Clerk of Courts until the Knox County Republican Party appoints someone to fill Hawkins' unexpired term. Staton is chief deputy for the clerk's office.
“She has an associate degree in bookkeeping. She's done bookkeeing for the legal and title office for 22 years,” said Hawkins regarding her support of Staton. “I have never seen the girl raise her voice. She just very calmly resolves the issue.
“All of the girls respect her,” Hawkins continued. “She knows titles, so she can go up and fill in. That's huge. [The transition] should be real smooth.”
Hawkins began her county service 49 years ago in the office of Common Pleas Judge Charles Ayers. As Clerk of Courts the past 20 years, she oversees the legal department and the title department.
She's seen a lot of changes over the years, including moving from stenographers recording court proceedings in shorthand to the use of computers. She worked with four common pleas judges and four sheriffs.
“I've got one of the best staffs ever,” she said. “It's good to leave on a happy note.”
“Mary Jo has been a good servant to the county for a long, long time, and that speaks to who she is,” said Commissioner Bill Pursel.
The commissioners unanimously approved the appointment of Staton as interim Clerk of Courts.
In other business Tuesday, the commissioners accepted the recommendations of the Knox County Tax Incentive Review Council regarding commercial real property in unincorporated areas of the county that are receiving tax exemptions. The council recommended that two Enterprise Zone exemptions — the Columbia Gas of Ohio project in Liberty Township and the FT Precision project in Wayne Township — be continued.
The council recommended that the EZ abatement for Custom Cutters, 8924 Columbus Road, be revoked as the company has not met its commitment to job creation, new payroll, and real estate investment.
The commissioners also heard the good news that the investment income for July was $102,750.39.