CHIPLEY — Washington County Clerk of Courts Linda Cook retired last week due to health concerns, and her interim replacement, Harold Bazzel, has taken reins of the office until a new clerk can be elected in November’s General Election.
Bazzel, the former Bay County Clerk of Courts, took the oath of office on Thursday. Bazzel served as Bay County’s Clerk of Courts for 28 years, begins serving this week at the Washington County Annex, where the courthouse employees have been relocated due to mold and structural issues with the courthouse building.
Cook has served in the county office since the mid-1980s, beginning as a deputy clerk and being elected clerk of courts in 1996.
The county held a retirement reception for Cook on Dec. 20 and numerous friends and officials were on hand to wish her well.
Cook began her career in the clerk of courts office in 1984, serving in the traffic department, back when everything was entered manually into docket books.
“The first computers came into the office in 1985, and the staff was so proud of this accomplishment, we thought we were really special to have computers in our small Washington County,” Cook said in an 2012 interview.
Cook was elected to the top job in 1996 and assumed the role of clerk of courts in January 1997. “Since that date a lot of changes have occurred,” she said. Cook and her staff worked diligently over the years to keep up with the changing technology to provide the public with an office of which they could be proud.
During the retirement reception on Dec. 20, County Commissioner Charles Brock spoke of Cook’s dedication to the job during some trying times and thanked her warmly for her many years of service to Washington County.
“In all my working endeavors, I have tried to give ‘my all’ to my job.” Cook said.
“It isn’t fair to my loyal staff of ladies and it isn’t fair to the public who elected me as clerk, to try to carry on when I know that I cannot give it my all,” she said.