published Friday, March 29th, 2013

Hamilton County commission votes to give magistrates yearlong contracts


Randall Russell, chief magistrate

Sharetta Smith

Jeff Davis

Larry Ables

Magistrates Randall Russell and Sharetta Smith will keep their jobs after Hamilton County commissioners voted Thursday to grant them new, yearlong contracts.

After hearing Tuesday from six other lawyers seeking the two magistrate positions held by Russell and Smith, current contracts for whom expire April 30, the commission voted unanimously Thursday during a recessed commission meeting to keep the old guard.

Russell and Smith will serve for another year, and Russell will keep his chief magistrate title.

Magistrates sign warrants, grant bonds and aid the county's various courts.

The contracts for two other magistrate positions, currently held by Larry Ables and Jeff Davis, will end Oct. 31, Commission Chairman Larry Henry said.

Next week, the commission will start looking for another judicial appointee.

Interviews for candidates to replace Juvenile Court Judge Suzanne Bailey will begin next week, after the commission's regularly scheduled meeting. Ten lawyers have applied for the job. Interviews are expected to be conducted Wednesday and Thursday.

On Thursday, during the recessed meeting, the commission also voted to place an electronic kiosk in the Hamilton County Clerk's satellite office on Bonny Oaks that will allow residents to renew or replace driver's licenses electronically.

During an agenda session held immediately after the recessed meeting, commissioners agreed to consider:

• Buying the Hamilton County sheriff two boat motors for $20,456 to replace older engines.

• Accepting bids from various communication and electronics companies to equip Red Bank Middle School and the county Telecommunications Department.

• Entering a 12-week contract with Carisch-Jackson Associates to plan implementation of a Pathways to Progress educational program in Hamilton County.

Contact staff writer Louie Brogdon at lbrogdon@timesfree or 423-757-6481.

about Louie Brogdon...

Louie Brogdon began reporting with the Chattanooga Times Free Press in February 2013. Before he came to the Scenic City, Louie lived on St. Simons Island, Ga. and covered crime, courts, environment and government at the Brunswick News, a 17,000-circulation daily on the Georgia coast. While there, he was awarded for investigative reporting on police discipline and other law enforcement issues by the Georgia Press Association. For the Times Free Press, Louie covers Hamilton County ...

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