Liberty Superior Court Barry Wilkes is the County Officers' Association of Georgia (COAG) 1999 County Officer of the Year.
The prestigious award is presented annually by the association to one of its 636 members, representing the 159 counties of Georgia, for "his or her outstanding contributions to the association, the people they serve at home, and the citizens of Georgia." The four member associations of COAG--clerks of courts, probate judges, sheriffs and tax commissioners--each nominate two of their members for the award. The award recipient is selected by the membership of the association.
"It's an awfully big honor just to be nominated (for the award)," said Sandra Glass, chairperson of the association's awards committee while presenting the award during a banquet of the association's annual winter conference on November 17, in Savannah. "In this officer's own association (Superior Court Clerks' Association of Georgia), he has earned the respect of its members...He is willing to share his knowledge and experience. He truly believes (and I quote from his own words) 'there is no limit as to how far a man can go or what he can achieve if he doesn't care who gets the credit'. His fellow clerks have said of this person that "if it needs fixing, he'll fix it; if it needs shook, he'll shake it...whatever it takes to reach the goal," she said.
Before presenting the award to Wilkes, Glass read a letter written by Linda Thompson, chief deputy clerk of the local court clerk's office, who has worked in the office 22 years and with Wilkes since 1983. "When I was asked to write a letter honoring Barry tonight...I had to ask myself if it was necessary to point out the countless number of changes and advances he has been responsible for in our office and clerks' offices throughout the state...It has been a tremendous learning experience working with (him) all these years. The professionalism he brought to the office, his attention to detail, his innovations in how we serve the public, his organizational skills...all blend to earn him the well-deserved reputation he has throughout the state," Thompson wrote. She added, "The Barry Wilkes I know is very much like his reputation: hardworking, driven, intelligent, innovative, fair, honest, compassionate, dedicated...all of the things a person who wins this award should embody."
Accepting the award, Wilkes said, "I am a public servant. That's all I am. That's what I do best. " Later, he noted that the award symbolized for him what he worked for each day of his life. "Wherever I go, whatever I do, I always want the people of Liberty County to be proud of me and for others to look at Liberty County favorably. I'm elected to do a job, to look after the interests of the people I serve, but I believe they demand no less of me than being my absolute best, presenting a good, solid image for our county." Wilkes emphasized that serving as president of COAG this year afforded him opportunities and contacts with people that "helped him to get resources that better enable (him) to do his job and to promote the interests of Liberty County. That is the primary reason I am willing to take on additional work and assume more responsibilities."
Wilkes was recognized and received a plaque for his outstanding leadership as president of the association this year. Incoming president Andy Pipkin, tax commissioner of Henry County, presented the award. "Barry has done some spectacular things this year as president, things were desperately needed to do for COAG and its members, as we move into the new millennium. We thank him for his leadership and guidance," Pipkin said. He noted that Wilkes' leadership produced a strategic plan for the association, changes to the association's constitution and bylaws that were intended to improve governance within the organization, improved fiscal management of the association, and various other "bold and far-reaching initiatives that will affect (COAG members) in the future."
Wilkes, who has been clerk of superior court since 1984, served as president of the Council of Superior Court Clerks of Georgia for five years (1990-1995) and was inaugural executive director of the Georgia Superior Court Clerks' Cooperative Authority, the state agency responsible for operating statewide automated Uniform Commercial Code (financing statement) and real estate information systems. In 1993, he was awarded the prestigious Superior Court Clerk of the Year Award for the State of Georgia. Presented by the Superior Court Clerks' Association of Georgia, the award may be awarded to a clerk of superior court only once in his or her lifetime. Wilkes served on the Board of Directors of the National Association for Court Management (NACM) from 1995-1997. He is a member of the joint American Judicature Society/Justice Management Institute pro se litigation task force, serves on various local and state boards and is very active in community-based civic and charitable organizations. He has served as president of the Liberty County/Armed Services YMCA Board of Directors since 1998.
Other county officers nominated for the award were: Herman Butler, Bryan County probate judge; Henry Baker, Newton County probate judge; Gary Wilson, Randolph County sheriff; Jerry Massey, Clarke County sheriff; Dwight Wood, Hall County clerk of superior court; Sylvia Hollums, Spalding County tax commissioner; and Patricia Hussey, Clayton County tax commissioners.