Published 12:08 am Wednesday, December 20, 2006
By By LYDIA GRIMES – Features writer
Christmas decorations are loved by almost everyone, but the ladies who work in the Escambia County Probate Office take their decorations very seriously.
Although all of the offices in the courthouse are decorated, the Probate office always seems to have just a little more. From the Santas on their computers to the two trees that are decorated with ornaments that have been around for years, it looks a lot like Christmas.
Each of the eight ladies, who work there, take care of their immediate space first and then comes the rest of the decorations. They have a very tall tree in the office and another smaller tree in the vault. Candy starts to appear in various places around the office and there is a general air of something special going on.
The old Christmas song “It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas” takes on a new meaning around Thanksgiving every year. And the goodwill that is shared in the office overflows into the rest of the building and to the customers they serve.
Rachel Agerton Lancaster is the probate judge for Escambia County. She has been elected two times to the position and has worked in the office since 1968. She worked as clerk with Judge Reo Kirkland Sr., Martha Kirkland and Devon Wiggins.
The judge is married to James Lancaster and together they have four children and eight grandchildren.
Maxine Butts is the chief clerk in the office. She has worked there since 1983 and has been the chief clerk since 2001. She has done a little of everything and says she ‘still can.' She fills in for Judge Agerton when she is needed and can perform marriages and oversee hearings. She also mails papers to the state and handles new adoption birth certificates.
Butts is married to P.W. Butts and they have two children and one grandchild.
Tiajuana Jackson has been there for seven years. She is the indexing clerk. She takes care of a lot of paperwork, works at the desk and does some work with the probate court.
Jackson is married to Johnny Jackson and they have three children and three grandchildren.
Bettye White has been at the Probate Office for 22 and a half years. She, like the others, has worked her way through most of the jobs in the office. She now serves as recording clerk. She has served with Martha Kirkland, Devon Wiggins and now Agerton.
We have a good relationship here in the office,” she said. “We recognize what Christmas is all about and want to celebrate it.”
White has three children and six grandchildren. She is not married right now but she said, “I am always looking.”
Sandra “Willie” Douglas has been in the office for about six years, ever since Agerton has been in office. She handles beer and cigarette tax reports. She sells stamps for these items and makes sure the monies from the taxes are going to the right places.
Douglas is married to Alex Douglas and they have two sons and a daughter-in-law.
Rochelle Crowell has been working there almost two years. She is the accountant for the office. She does monthly reports and sends checks to state offices. She is in charge of the conservation and marine police division.
Crowell is married to Bryant Crowell. She has three children, five grandchildren, two-step children and three-step grandchildren.
Samantha Hadley is one of the newer members of the staff of the Probate Office. She has been there about a year and a half.
She is a Probate clerk and handles the marriage records, making sure they are recorded and sent to Montgomery. She also fills in for other licenses and records.
Hadley is single and has two brothers.
Chrys Browder is the newest member of the group. She came to work in May of 2006, and serves as probate court clerk. She handles business licenses and name changes, among many other jobs.
She is married to Kevin Browder and they have one daughter, Rachael.