Liberty County was in the spotlight at this year’s County and District Clerks Association of Texas’s Region 7 meetings on Sept. 30-Oct. 1. Hosted by the Liberty County Clerk’s Office at the The Retreat at Artesian Lakes east of Cleveland, approximately 45 county and district clerks from the 30-county Region 7 were in attendance.
The annual gatherings are an opportunity for the clerks to complete required several hours of required training while being kept up to date on matters that pertain to their public duties.
Liberty County Clerk Lee Haidusek Chambers, who offered to plan and host the event during last year’s COVID-related virtual training sessions, said she relished the opportunity to share her county with the other clerks.
“Usually these meetings are held in hotels but I wanted it to be more of a retreat,” she said.
During the two-day event, attendees enjoyed the beautiful natural scenery of The Retreat while also learning about legislative changes that will impact fees in their offices and how redistricting may change their local elections. David Mendez with Bickerstaff Heath Delgado Acosta LLP shared new maps of the state house and senate districts. County Judge Jay Knight and State Senator Robert Nichols addressed the group on other matters.
Another speaker, Jeremy Wilson from the Department of Information Resources in Austin, focused on cyber attacks and explained how the clerks and their staffs can do their part to prevent an intrusion to their electronic records.
“He showed us a graphic that shows the amount of attacks that take place in real time and that was startling. It looked like bullets trying to blast their way in,” Chambers said.
The new legislation that was discussed will raise some fees while lowering others for documents. The cost to file a civil lawsuit has increased while the cost of electronic documents is decreasing for people who access the documents online.
“We have to implement all these changes by January. It will impact our programming and our auditors. With the cost of electronic copies going down, it really puts pressure on us to have all our records digitized,” she said. “That’s something I have been pushing in my office.”
On Friday, Oct. 1, once all the training sessions were complete, the group took a tour of the Sam Houston Regional Library in Liberty.
“I tried to give them all an opportunity to know more about Liberty County – our history, our crazy growth and our challenges, and I really wanted to show off Liberty County a bit. I made gift baskets for the speakers using only local products – olive oil from Devers, Mayhaw jelly, honey from District Attorney Jennifer Bergman Harkness’s bees, spices from the Williams Company, cup towels that were made locally by Kennedy Rives and K3 Designs, and Liberty County Vodka,” Chambers said.
Region 7 of the County and District Clerks Association of Texas includes most of Southeast Texas. Participating counties are Milam, Robertson, Brazos, Grimes, Burleson, Galveston, Lee, Fayette, Washington, Walker, Austin, Colorado, Wharton, Matagorda, Brazoria, Fort Bend, Harris, Montgomery, Waller, Trinity, San Jacinto, Polk, Tyler, Jasper, Newton, Orange, Jefferson, Chambers, Hardin and Liberty counties.