Watson back on the job

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Brenda Watson is back on the job as Manila court clerk, a part-time position she held for 26 years.

Brenda Watson, Manila Court Clerk

Watson was a Mississippi County deputy assessor and tax collector for 31 years. She retired Jan. 1. Along with her full time position with the county, she worked part time as Manila court clerk. She gave up the clerk's job about a year ago.

The court clerk's position recently became vacant and when Watson was called, she did not hesitate to come out of retirement -- at least for a few days a week.

"I always enjoyed serving as the court clerk," she said. "I like working with the public and I don't mind all of the paper work. It keeps my mind sharp."

She has an office at Manila City Hall. She plans on working in the office on Mondays and Tuesdays but can work an extra day if is needed.

Her job consists of attending all courts in Manila, taking care of the paper work, collecting all fines and turning over the money to the proper agencies.

Watson is the only person who accepts the fine payments. Fines can be paid to her during office hours or mailed to Brenda Watson, Court Clerk, Box 895, Manila, AR 72442.

She is presently working on collecting old fines.

"I want people to know the old fines do not go away," she said. "People can leave here and come back in 10 years and the fines are still on the books. Driver's licenses are suspended because of failure to pay old fines. Once a person gets their license suspended, they cannot be reinstated until all fines are paid in full and a reinstatement fee is paid to the state. The fee can run anywhere from $100 to $300. Also, for every month a fine is not paid the state charges an additional $5 fee. These can add up, also. Most of the time court costs are required at the time of court."

Court costs include $355 for DWI; $55 for traffic offenses; and $80 for non-traffic offenses.

"Several years ago we went from a city court to a district court," Watson said. "District Court Judge Shannon Langston serves as judge for Manila. Misdemeanors are tried in the Manila Court. Felonies and juvenile cases are handled in Blytheville Court.

One of the changes Watson has seen through the years is the connection from state to state thanks to computers.

"We have an agreement with all other states," Watson said. "A driver's license can be suspended from state to state. We are working diligently to collect old fines and clean up the books. Offenders need to be aware we are very serious about it. Anyone with old fines on the books needs to come in and start taking care of it."

Manila Court is held at 5 p.m. the second and fourth Tuesday of each month.

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