By Patrick Yost
Several Morgan County constitutional officers this week have announced their intention to seek another term in office.
Superior Clerk of Court Jody Higdon
Jody Higdon, 47, will seek a fifth term as the Morgan County Clerk of Court. Higdon, a Republican, started as the clerk of court in 2005 and since that time has transformed the office, utilizing technology to “fully digitalize” the mountains of data the office maintains.
Higdon manages a six employees and an approximate $500,000 budget. “One of the things I’m proud of is I’ve remained under budget every year I’ve been in office.”
The office is responsible, in [part, for maintaining jury lists, all real estate filings, filing leans,, land transactions, financial statements, recording military discharges, is the only passport agency in Morgan County, schedules both civil and criminal court and maintains records for both, handles all contract accounts and maintains records regarding criminal sentencing.
Higdon also serves as the clerk of juvenile court and, recently, as the administrator for the Morgan County Board of Equalization.
She has been certified as a superior court clerk through the University of Georgia, serves on the Council of Superior Clerks of Court of Georgia and has been named the Eighth District Clerk of the Year, for her innovative structuring of the office.
“There are significant changes coming as far as criminal E filing and mandatory E filing that we are now preparing for,” she said.
Chief Magistrate Judge Connie Holt
Judge Connie Holt, 71, has served Morgan County residents as the chief magistrate judge since 1991 and will be seeking her eighth term in office after succeeding then Chief Magistrate Judge Lynn Brown. Judge Holt has worked at the office since 1983.
Judge Holt manages four employees and an approximate $336,000 annual budget while the office takes on greater financial responsibility including hearing civil actions up to $15,000. The Morgan County Magistrate Judges Office is responsible for a host of duties, including dispossessory evictions, garnishments and foreclosures. On the criminal side, the office is responsible for issuing arrest and search warrants, holding pre-warrant hearings, issuing good behavior bonds, hearing misdemeanor cases, county ordinance violations, animal control violations and family violence cases.
Judge Holt said the hallmark of her lengthy career has been her desire to serve. “If I feel like I’ve helped one person through rulings on family violence cases or enabling rehabilitation then that’s made my career worthwhile.”
Judge Holt has had an envious career. She has been named the magistrate judge of the year four times in Georgia. The Georgia Council of Magistrate Judges has given her a lifetime achievement award; named Chief Judge Holt the “Workhouse of the Year” two times and given her the Judge Kimberly Warden Humanitarian Award.
Judge Holt has been appointed by various Georgia governors five times to the State Board of Commissioners of Magistrate Judges Retirement Fund.
Sheriff Robert Markley
Sheriff Robert Markley will be seeking his sixth four-year term as sheriff. Sheriff Markley, 51, was first elected sheriff in 2001. Markley, a Republican, started his law enforcement career in Morgan County as a 21-year-old deputy in the Morgan County Detention Center in 1990 and worked his way up the ranks until becoming an investigator when he won a crowded field for sheriff.
Sheriff Markley manages 57 employees and an approximate $4 million budget.
In 2010 the sheriff’s office moved into the new Morgan County Public Safety Center after Markley marshaled a $19.5 million re-use of the former Denon manufacturing plant on Monticello Highway. The re-purposing of the plant into a detention center and safety center won several national awards for innovation and renovation.
Markley said the sheriff’s office continues to streamline its efforts as both a criminal investigating agency and servant for the court and detention center. “We are constantly reviewing procedures and processes to create a better product for the citizens of Morgan County,” he said. “But I still have work to do.”
“As our county grows, we have to stay current and adapt to today’s law enforcement landscape.”
Morgan County Coroner Adam Carter
Adam Carter, 46, has served as the Morgan County Coroner since he won an election for the post in 2003. Carter, the owner of A.E. Carter Funeral Home, is seeking his fifth term as the county’s coroner.
Carter, a Republican, currently has one staff member, Morgan County Deputy Coroner Jeff Rogers, and manages an approximately $30,000 budget.
His duties include determining the cause and manner of deaths, investigating any unattended death and investigating an y violent or unexpected death.