Mark Sims sworn in as third public defender
Mark Sims stood with his longtime friend, Judge Brantley Clark for his official swearing in as only the third public defender in the 14th Judicial Circuit. Sims replacing Herman Laramore who retired after 47 years of service.
Sims made the trip to Panama City for the ceremony due to Clark’s trial schedule. Sims has been with the Public Defender’s office since January of 2009, having been with the state attorney’s office prior to that. Sims joined the state attorney’s office following graduation from the University of Miami Law School in 1995.
Sims acknowledges he is inheriting a great office and a great staff, “Herman has done a really good job, he has a well-oiled machine. He has great attorneys. Some are looking to retire soon and we will have to replace them but I am not looking to make any major changes. I want to keep quality representation and be a good steward of tax payers’ dollars.”
Clay Rooks takes over as Clerk of Jackson County Courts
Friends, family, and supporters gathered early Tuesday morning (7:30) to witness the changing of the guards. After 20 years under the reign of Dale Guthrie, Jackson County has a new Clerk of the Court. Clay Rooks ran unopposed for the office and officially took over Tuesday. Gerald Gause had the duties of swearing in Rooks.
Rooks welcomed and thanked everyone for attending and jokingly told his staff they would be given 30 minutes for their early arrival. Rooks said, “I’d like to say thank you to everyone for coming in. I’ll make sure we get you a half hour. This is very important to me. We have a couple of additions coming in.”
In an interview Rooks said about running unopposed, “I had Ms. Dale behind me, my family, my dad (Buddy Rooks) who always treated people fairly, and the entire office here. I am thankful for that. I have learned from the best here. And I know I have big shoes to fill.”
Rooks was hired by Guthrie 10 years ago, leaving what is now Grimsley and Company, PA. Five years ago, Guthrie appointed Rooks as the Chief Deputy.
Rooks is a 1979 graduate of Marianna High School, attended Chipola College, and received his degree in accounting from FSU in 1986. He received his CPA license in 1990.
Clay is married to Amy English Rooks, and they have three children. Maggie Rooks is a graduate of University of Florida with a law degree, Clayte Rooks is a UF graduate and is in his third year of medical school at FSU, and Mattie Rooks is a seventh grade student at Marianna Middle School. They reside in Marianna.
Rebecca Morris-Haid sworn in as Property Appraiser
Rebecca Morris-Haid officially became Jackson County’s Property Appraiser Tuesday morning at 10:00 a.m. as Judge Wade Mercer administered her the oath. Morris-Haid won her first election bid over Robin Edenfield in August of 2016.
Morris-Haid was surrounded by supporters, family, and friends as she was sworn in.
Morris-Haid’s campaign centered on her knowledge of the job due to her 12 years of hands-on experience working in every aspect of the property appraiser’s office.
At her swearing in ceremony Tuesday morning, Morris-Haid was very emotional, “First of all, I would like to thank everyone for coming. It is indeed an honor to be your property appraiser. A long time ago, I didn’t know I was going to be here. It was not in my original plans. But I am here and so therefore, I will take care of the county to the best of my ability. And with your help I will do what I can for the county. I have had a wonderful teacher. I am just thankful for all the help that I’ve had and I’m thankful for Ms. Cox and the things she has done for me. I would like to thank my family as well, I couldn’t have done it without them.”
Mary Carol Murdock sworn in as Jackson County Tax Collector
Mary Carol Murdock stood before friends, family, and supporters as she was sworn in by Judge Wade Mercer Tuesday at 12 noon at the Jackson County Commissioners meeting room. Murdock won her election bid over newcomer Denise Folds in the November 8, 2016 election.
Following her election bid, Murdock said, “I am not taking this lightly, I consider this an honor and a privilege to be able to serve Jackson County.”
At the swearing in ceremony Tuesday, Murdock thanked her family for their support, her friends, and supporters, “It is an honor to look out and see my many supporters, my family, friends, and co-workers. I want to recognize my family as they were my biggest supporters. I also want to recognize my staff. They have to face a lot every day. You never know who’s going to walk in the door but we are there to serve the people. As I told them, we will offer service with a smile.”
Mary Carol is married to Rusty Murdock and they have two grown daughters, Marcy Murdock who is a nurse at Jackson Hospital and Kyndal Murdock Schuler who is a physical therapy assistant with Kindred at Home. They have one grandchild, Charley Schuler. Mary Carol is the daughter of Jeanette Taylor and the late Rozell Taylor.
Murdock is a 1976 graduate of Malone High School and received her Associates of Applied Science Degree at Chipola College.
Sylvia Stephens returns for another term
Sylvia Stephens returned for another term as the Supervisor of Elections for Jackson County. Tuesday morning before friends, supporters, and her office staff, Judge Wade Mercer made it official as he swore in Stephens to start her eighth term as supervisor of elections.
Stephens recognized her staff and said without them she could not have been successful, “I have such a wonderful, God-fearing staff. We are all Christians and we try to treat everybody like we want to be treated.”
Lou Roberts takes oath for third term
Lou Roberts was the last of the newly elected or re-elected officials to take his oath of office Tuesday. At 3:30 in the afternoon, the Jackson County courtroom was filled with family, friends, and supporters to witness judge Wade Mercer swear in Roberts.
Roberts took over as sheriff in November, 2007 before his official date was scheduled in January of 2008. Roberts won his third election over Sneads Police Chief Burt McAlpin last August.
Following his ceremony, Roberts praised his staff, “I haven’t had a public swearing in for my staff recently and that will happen. I can’t do this job with everyone’s help and I have a great staff, very dedicated. And I’d like to thank my wife who has stood beside me through all of my decisions.”