Dear Editor:

I write to note the retirement of Karen Prosser, clerk of the Chaffee County Combined Courts, and to honor her selfless service as well as that of her predecessors.

Ms. Prosser has year after year worked nearly every workday an hour or two beyond the expected eight hours and rarely taken leave. She has earned the community’s respect and gratitude by her selfless and effective service.

We in Chaffee County have been well served for at least the past 30 years by our local clerks of court (all of the counties in our judicial district, the 11th, have also been well served by their clerks of court and staff, but that is beyond the scope of this letter).

I am familiar with the work of Irene Schweitzer, Lenna Fink, Ida Hansen and Ms. Prosser, who have provided valuable judicial services to our community in often very stressful situations.

Frankly, when people have business with our courts, they are in difficult circumstances, like divorce, charged with a crime or a lawsuit with neighbors. Even when the court’s “customers” are polite and respectful, which they mostly are, the clerks and staff address emotionally charged persons and problems. It takes a toll.

Yes, each clerk chooses her office but nonetheless provides critical public service in which the quality of her work makes difficult circumstances a bit less so.

Clerks of court lead and manage personnel; coordinate schedules with lawyers, judges, litigants, jurors, witnesses and law enforcement officers; collect, record and track reams of data; implement ever-changing technology (most notably conversion from paper to electronic filing); prepare for audits; train staff; and conform policies and procedures to yearly legislative changes among countless other tasks.

I imagine there are many others in public and private service whose work we take for granted, little imagining their stresses and challenges. All I can say is that when it comes to clerks of court, we, in Chaffee County have been fortunate to have had Ms. Schweitzer, Ms. Fink, Ms. Hansen and Ms. Prosser serve us capably, faithfully and humbly.

Finally, our new clerk of court, Dana Petri, is an experienced and competent local who will most certainly carry on the honorable tradition set by her predecessors.

Thank you, Mr. Baranczyk, for the opportunity to express my appreciation for these fine women.

Charles M. Barton,