Story speaks at Shawmut Methodist Church’s Men’s Club meeting

Published 4:30 pm Monday, March 4, 2019

VALLEY — Paul Story talked about his first month as Chambers County probate judge at last week’s meeting of the Shawmut Methodist Church Men’s Club.

He said that it’s been a learning experience but that he has an outstanding staff with which to work. Two people with experience in being a probate judge — Dr. John Crowder and Bill English from Lee County — have been helpful.

“It’s reassuring to know that they are only a phone call away,” he said.

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He has attended a training session in Tuscaloosa.

“We met for eight hours a day for four days,” he said. “We went over every aspect of the office.”

Story is one of 68 probate judges in Alabama. All 67 counties have one and Jefferson County has two.

“Statewide, we’re updating driver’s license software,” Story said. “We are going through the process of the way tags are sold to see if we can speed up the process. It’s being simplified. We’re also updating our voting machines. The ones we have are old and spare parts are no longer being manufactured for them.”

Story was sworn into office on Jan. 13. He said that he’s learned much in his first few weeks on the job but “there’s so much more to learn.”

He said that the one aspect of the new job he’s enjoyed the most is the opportunity to deal with the public.

“I’m trying to be more involved with the county commission,” he said. “They have been very helpful so far, and I appreciate that. In some counties, the probate judge heads the county commission. Lee County is that way.”

Story said that he’s working on having the annex office in Lanett open during the lunch hour.

“The problem is that we need to have security when it’s open,” he said. “We are working on finding a solution but don’t know when we’ll see the light at the end of the tunnel on this.”

A large percentage of the business done by the probate judge’s office is done at the Lanett Annex. According to Story, almost three-fourths of the county’s tags, titles and driver’s licenses are done at the Annex.

“That’s a good reason the office needs to be open during lunch,” he said. “We have a good staff at the Annex. We just need to get everyone on board with the hours.”

One goal he has is for courthouse records to be easily accessed by the public. Approximately one-third of them, mostly from the 1800s and early 1900s, are in the courthouse basement and aren’t accessible to those who are physically handicapped. Also, of concern is that the basement is subject to flooding.

Story said he was well pleased with the work recently done in the historic upstairs courtroom.

“They did an amazing job of keeping it to time,” he said. “You could tell they were trying to give it a historic feel.”

He credited Circuit Judge Steve Perryman and District Judge Calvin Milford on having done good work in getting the rehab work done.

“It looks fabulous,” said Men’s Club member Bill Gilbert, the county’s former revenue commissioner.

Story thanked Chambers County citizens for their support and pledged that they would always be treated with courtesy and respect in his office.

“If you have a problem, we will talk to you and do our best to help you solve it,” he said.