The County Officials Association of Tennessee, founded in 1968, recently held its 51st annual convention and trade show at the Park Vista in Gatlinburg.
The proceedings included a dual surprise for mother-daughter attendees.
Jean W. Jones began serving as Hamblen County’s clerk and master three years prior to the association’s founding, in 1965 and continued in the role for 30 years. She attended this month’s convention at the invitation of her daughter, Kathy Jones-Terry (Litz), the county’s current clerk and master.
“I knew that Mom was going to be inducted into the COAT Hall of Fame, so I had her there along with several members of my staff at the Clerk and Master’s office,” Jones-Terry said. “She, of course, was completely unaware.”
As it turns out, Jones-Terry would be caught unwares, too. She was presented with the Outstanding Court Clerk of Tennessee award.
“I was equally surprised, as I had no idea that was coming,” Jones-Terry said.
The Hall of Fame was established in 2018 at the 50th Anniversary celebration of the founding of COAT, to honor those county officials who had served in their positions for at least 15 years, had been out of the office for at least five years and who had contributed in significant ways to their offices, to their affiliate organizations (court clerks, county clerks, registers and trustees), and to COAT.
Each year, the affiliates nominate one clerk and master and one circuit court clerk to be added to the Hall of Fame, a prestigious honor. Also, each year the president of each affiliate organization selects one person who has contributed greatly to the organization during the past year and who exemplifies the attributes of an outstanding county official.
The State Court Clerks’ President Lisa Niles, Clerk & Master from Loudon County, honored Jones-Litz with that recognition.
“Not only was it an honor for me to be chosen, but it was even more special to be recognized on the same night that my mother was there to be inducted into the Hall of Fame,” Jones-Terry said.
“How funny that, growing up, I had no desire to be just like my mother and now, I am extremely proud to be recognized and honored for following in her footsteps. She obviously taught me by example to serve passionately and without reserve my local position and my association, experiencing much change and growth in both,” Jones-Terry said.
After Jean Jones became Clerk & Master in 1965, she was continuously active in the Clerks’ Association and COAT throughout her tenure, always serving on both the Education and Legislative committees. She served as Treasurer of the TSCCA (TN State Court Clerks’ Association) in 1978, 1979 and 1980 and also served as the Chairman of the Forms and Standardization Committee in 1980. Jones then served the association as president in 1982-1983 and was named Outstanding Court Clerk of the State of Tennessee in 1983. During her Presidency, Judicial Redistricting was the subject of much discussion.
While she served her community as Clerk and Master and the Clerks’ Association in many capacities, from 1965 to 1995, she participated in several of TSCCA’s inaugural events.
Jones experienced the first educational seminar held in Gatlinburg in June 1981; she helped work through legislation to endorse funding for the Court Clerk’s Conference to hold seminars for education and training and saw a bill pass in 1982 to support this; she was active in the association when our by-laws were adopted in 1984; she witnessed in 1986 the beginning of computer automation for clerks as a committee was formed to study the need. In 1987, Jones saw T-Cast become the software system for the clerks. In 1988 she was named the Outstanding County Official in the State of Tennessee. She was also a member of the first group of clerks designated as “Certified Public Administrators” in 1989. In 1992 and 1993, she was part of the audit committee that found some discrepancies and helped put guidelines into place for the state and divisional treasurers. Additionally, she served as Tennessee Director and Sergeant at Arms of the national organization IACREOT for several years.
Jones-Terry was appointed Hamblen County Clerk & Master in 1995, after teaching English and Journalism at Morristown West High School for 13 years. She immediately became active in the TSCCA, serving on the Education and Legislative committees continuously throughout her tenure, and serving as Treasurer, Secretary, Vice-President and President of both the East Tennessee Clerks and the State Court Clerks. She also served as a State Court Clerks Board member for the County Officials Association of Tennessee for several terms, including her term as TSCCA President.
Jones-Terry presided during the creation of a Probate Manual for Clerks across the state, was instrumental in designing the break-out class design for Clerks’ training, and established a committee to rework the general manual for clerks. She has been a Certified Public Administrator since 1999. She has served as Clerk & Master for three Chancellors over her 24 years in office, and has undertaken the transition to digital permanent records for both Chancery and Probate courts. She maintains a website for Hamblen County Chancery Court with information pertaining to delinquent taxes, court dockets, upcoming court sales, pro se forms and court costs. Her newest endeavor is to put her city and county delinquent tax sales on-line.