GAINESVILLE - A standing room-only crowd filled a room in the Hall County courthouse Tuesday afternoon for the swearing-in of one of their local elected officials.
Charles Baker was sworn in as Clerk of Court for Hall County Superior and State Courts. Chief Superior Court Judge C. Andrew Fuller administered the oath of office.
Baker has 30 years of experience working in the courthouse, and will officially take office on Friday as legal custodian of all court records in Hall County.
"Charles has learned his trade well," said Fuller, adding that he considers Baker a "close, personal friend."
Baker thanked several people after taking his oath, including his wife, Glenda, and Clerk of Court Dwight Wood, "who gave me 24 years of employment and made this such a smooth transition period."
An immediate transition taking place in the Clerk of Courts office will be that starting Friday, Baker said he will begin allocating all passport revenues to the county's general fund. Wood came under fire this year when it was revealed that he - while breaking no laws - was pocketing passport fees that he collected and not turning them over to the county's general fund. He did not seek re-election this year.
He also outlined several goals for the Clerk's Office, including quicker filing of legal documents; online traffic ticket payments; more extensive employee training; equipment upgrades for employees; and online case filing.
Baker acknowledged the challenge of the current economy, with Hall County employees taking furlough days once a month and frozen job positions that aren't being filled.
However, he said, "the Clerk's Office will continue to work hard to get the job done."
(AccessNorthGa.com's Ken Stanford contributed to this story.)