A love of people and a heart for service is what Cindy Polley feels has made her successful in her role as the Ellis County clerk. Polley is retiring from office when her seventh term completes in 2018.
As county clerk, Polley keeps records and proceedings of the county courts and the commissioners' court. She also serves as the recorder of deeds, records birth and death certificates, issues marriage licenses, records assumed names, wills, and probate.
“It has been a real joy and I am proud of what we have accomplished. You are only as good as your staff. I am very proud of my staff,” Polley said. “I just appreciate the opportunity I have had over the years to serve in a place like Ellis County. "It is going to be hard to leave because you always have mixed emotions, but it has been a pleasure and a joy to serve.”
One of the most significant challenges that she has had during her service is incorporating technology into the functions of the office.
“When we started automating, the change didn’t come very easily. Being successful in automating the functions of the office is a big highlight. We originally put everything in a book,” Polley explained. “When I did my report to the state, I had to go into the books and count the cases one by one. But when we got on the computer to automate that stuff those were proud moments.”
For an example of just how modernized the clerk's office has become, the Ellis County Clerk's Office has imaged all of the deed records back to the founding of the county. Those documents are imaged and indexed to allow people to pull those up on a computer kept at the office. Records contained on microfiche have been covered to a digital record. Over the past year, the department has been working to get all of the vital records digitally imaged, as well.
She noted that these steps have helped to improve record keeping and has provided easier access to the public.
Another function the office has helped to streamline is the centralized collection of vital records such as birth and death certificates. Before the county took on this task, each justice of the peace and the Cities of Waxahachie and Ennis served in that function. This practice continued until 1994.
Before leaving office, Polley hopes to have the vital statistics project complete with the records digitized and the commissioners' court records digitized as well. The office is also looking to start electronically recording deeds.
She noted that it is a real joy to be able to help someone with a project that they are working on to put the pieces together.
“Depending on the situation here you may have someone that recently lost someone and they are trying to find out information about their records or where to go. You might have someone that comes to do research, and they have a story to tell, or you might make a family connection,” Polley recalled. “To be able to help someone and put the puzzle pieces together are great. Connecting the dots is one of the best things about when you are working with someone."
Polley feels that its time to bring someone new into the office with a fresh perspective to grow it. She advises the next person who takes on the role as county clerk to remember it is not just about keeping records, but it is about the people connected to them.
“You have to have a heart for service and if you don’t have a heart for service it is not the place for you. I think you have to be committed," Polley said. "You have to love people and you have to love service."