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Circuit Judge Kenneth Johnson of Warren swears in Minnie Haywood as Desha County Circuit Clerk in January at the Desha County Courthouse. Haywood is the first woman to be elected into the Desha Circuit Clerk position.

Photo by Linda Lambert Retirement not in cards for Haywood

ByEthan Nobles For County Lines

pany for 36 years and said the company’s owners were from Mississippi and decided to move back home. Retirement, however, didn’t set well with Haywood.

M “I thought I was just not going to work for awhile,” she said. “Tat

didn’t last long. … I’ve worked all my life and haven’t known anything else. I wasn’t happy not working. “My son-in-law tells me I’m much easier to get along with when I’m

working.” When Haywood learned that Desha County Circuit Clerk Skippy Leek was hiring a deputy clerk, she applied for the job. In all she worked at the clerk’s office for about five years before deciding to run for the position in 2012. Leek followed the time-honored tradition of circuit clerks staying in office for years. Haywood said Leek had been circuit clerk for 20 years before retiring from the office in March 2011. Haywood said she effec- tively ran the office after Leek left as no circuit clerk was appointed and she was the chief deputy. Leek started talking to Haywood about running for circuit clerk after he left office. “I wondered why I should do it, then thought why not?” she said. She took his advice and, on Jan. 2, was sworn into office as the first woman circuit clerk of Desha County. Haywood is 76-years-old. “People supported me,” she said. “I’m very thankful for that.” Haywood said she hopes to remain in office for at least two terms. “I want to do everything I can as long as I’m here to give it a boost along the way,” she said. “I want to take advantage of the new technol- ogy out there.”


innie Haywood thought she was set to retire after her employer, Dottley’s Spice Mart, moved from McGehee to Vicksburg, Miss., in 2006. Haywood had been the office manager for the com-

One change that has already been made is that bookkeeping was done

by hand but it’s now done on a computer. She said the office is already looking into allowing attorneys for file pleading electronically and com- puterizing the jury program so that people are chosen at random by a machine rather than by the traditional method of drawing lots by hand. Also, Haywood said she wants to computerize all the deeds and plats in the office – county land records through 1978 have been stored digitally and the staff is working to get all of them indexed. She said efficiency is critical due to staff cuts and budget constraints. When Leek was in office, Haywood said there were three full-time deputies and two part-time people in the office. In addition to Hay- wood, now there are two full-time employees and one part-time worker. Haywood said her office has to keep up with a lot in that they handle all the court filings for the five circuit judges in the county, keep all deeds and plats and swear in notary publics. One of the most time- consuming jobs of the office, Haywood said, is for a clerk to be available in court during all hearings. “It’s a real challenge to keep on top of everything,” she said. “It takes all of us working very hard to handle things in a timely manner… But, we’ve got a rhythm going. It’s working out very well. “Tere’s never a dull moment. Tat’s for sure. Tere are very few mo- ments when we don’t have something to do.” Meanwhile, Haywood said she’s got more than her job to keep her busy. Her son-in-law and daughter – Mark and Denise Day – have three adult children and a granddaughter and Haywood keeps up with them. “Mostly what I do is spend time with family,” she said. Haywood said she also spends time working in her yard, reading,

crocheting and staying involved in the First Baptist Church. She also belongs to the local historical society and the Ladies Chamber of Com- merce in McGehee, where she helped raise money for the Relay for Life – a fundraising benefit for the American Cancer Society.

Continued to Page 40 >>> COUNTY LINES, SPRING 2013

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