Last week, Patrick County Sheriff Dan Smith said he found no indication that anyone was asked to leave the Circuit Court Clerk’s Office.
“I have received no report from any court security deputy with any knowledge of anyone being asked to leave the clerk’s office,” he said.
Smith was asked to investigate claims made by Erica Cipko Wade that two people were asked “to leave the clerk’s office and not come back. That is unacceptable,” she said at the October 10 Patrick County Young Professionals (PCYP) Candidate Forum.
Wade and Nancy Turner Belcher are challenging interim Circuit Court Clerk Morgan Boothe in the November election.
The Enterprise tried to obtain on the record information related to the claims, but was unable to do so.
Boothe told the Patrick County Board of Supervisors at its October 16 meeting that she asked Smith to look into the allegations because neither “the deputy clerks nor I know anything about this.”
The claims, Booth said, represent “a potential violation of the Code (law),” which requires all public facilities to ensure that every individual is entitled to full and equal enjoyment of the facility without discrimination or segregation on the grounds of race, color, religion, or national origin.
As a result, “I have reached out to Sheriff Smith,” to look into the allegation, “and he will report back with any findings,” Boothe said.
She also presented a departmental update to the supervisors – a practice she vows to continue quarterly if given the opportunity.
“Since our office has had quite a few problems the last couple of years, I just wanted to be completely transparent with you and the public,” Boothe said, adding the last time she spoke to the board she was accompanied by Smith to discuss the security construction project.
Nearly a year later, a final quote was received and Boothe said “we’re very excited to have this finally starting. As you can imagine, we are unknowingly face to face with some dangerous people from time to time, so bullet proof glass and security safeguards will make the public and the employees feel much safer.”
When she was appointed as interim in November 2022, Boothe said she and Circuit Court Judge Marcus Brinks thought it would be a good idea to have members of the circuit team from the Office of Executive Secretary come to the courthouse and perform a management analysis to determine its strengths and weaknesses. According to her calculations, the office has complied with 91 percent of the recommendations provided.
“The first one, there were no written job descriptions for staff that has been completed; no cross-training of staff, we are continuing that every day; it was recommended to utilize training materials on the Office of Executive Secretary’s website, we take webinars monthly if not more often,” she said.
The office also started rotating the employees working the front counter until one is hired and trained, implemented a new jury management system, fixed the broken panic alarms with new ones as part of the security upgrade, began autonumbering deeds, cross-trained staff for indexing, and other recommended courses of actions.
Boothe said the office could not have had its successes over the last 11 months without its dedicated staff.
Clayton Kendrick, chairman, and of the Mayo River District, said he’s glad Boothe did the update.
“I don’t think this is something that I can remember getting from the Clerk’s office,” he said.
In other matters, the board:
*Approved the Sept. 11 meeting minutes.
*Approved the bills, claims, and appropriations.
*Heard from Roger Hayden, of the Dan River District, about solar.
*Heard an update on Piedmont Community Services (PCS) from Assistant Clinical Director of Addiction and Recovery Treatment Services Monica Flora and lead community organizer Tobie Panos.
*Heard committee updates from Patrick County Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Director Scottie Cassell.
*Approved allowing the E-911 committee to go ahead with upgrading a tower. The funds are already set aside within the budget.
*Approved allowing the Blue Ridge Volunteer Rescue Squad to purchase loading system with capital improvement funds.
*Heard an update on tourism from Tourism Director James Houchins.
*Approved Clayton Kendrick, chairman, and of the Mayo River District, as the voting delegate for the Virginia Association of Counties (VACO) annual conference.
*Heard the administrator’s report.
*Heard the supervisors’ reports.