Retiring Clerk of Courts Teresa Lammers with her predecessor former Clerk of Courts Mary Wiener - Putnam Sentinel
Retiring Clerk of Courts Teresa Lammers with her predecessor former Clerk of Courts Mary Wiener. (Putnam Sentinel/Steven Coburn-Griffis)

OTTAWA — Typically, the atmosphere in the third floor hallway of the Putnam County Courthouse, the space between the county’s municipal and common pleas courtrooms, isn’t what one would call festive. But last Friday wasn’t a typical day. It was, not to put too fine a point on it, decidedly atypical, what with friends, family, coworkers, and residents of all stripes coming to pay their respects to retiring Clerk of Courts Teresa Lammers, whose last day in her elected position was Dec. 28.

“It was certainly a growing process,” Lammers said of her career during an interview last week. “I won’t necessarily miss all the law changes and the nitty gritty of the job, but I will miss especially the people in this office and the courthouse. This county does a pretty good job of working together. I’m proud of having been able to grow with this.”

Lammers, a 34-year veteran of public service, served as the county’s clerk of courts for 15 years, begining in 2003 when her predecessor, Mary Wiener, retired. Her career, however, started in the Title Office in 1984. From there, she moved upstairs

“I am one of 11, and a farm girl from north of Miller City, and I’ve not always seen myself in a leadership role,” Lammers said. “But I was one of the oldest daughters of that 11, so there was always an expectation. Not in this kind of thing, though. But I felt strongly when my boss before me, Mary Wiener, was retiring and I could get one year on her term that it would be silly to have someone else come in here.”

Unlike most other Ohio counties, where responsibilities are tied specifically to common pleas courts, here the clerk of courts is responsible for both common pleas and municipal courts. Lammers remarked that dual responsibility was challenging and intimidating, but also edifying.

“Common Pleas moves slower, it’s usually a little more serious matter that has to be sorted out. It takes longer,” Lammers said. “And that was one of my surprises, how slow the wheels of justice can turn. Until you walk over to Municipal Court and it’s like the wild Energizer Bunny some days. I have to admit, I worked in Title, I’d worked in Common Pleas Court for years, but I’d never worked in Municipal Court, so that was my big learning curve. The law changes, especially in the past eight years. I think it’s the clerk’s job to watch law changes, and we have state associations to make sure we’re doing as best we can. I’m at peace with that. I think we’ve done well over the years.”

And those years, those three-plus decades, saw changes outside the legislative, beyond the law.

“Of course, the technology. When I first started, those big books, we were pulling them out and docketing them,” Lammers said, gesturing to a wall of oversized ledgers bound in cracked leather. Then came computers. “We could sit at our computers and type. That was huge and it was a big change and a big learning curve. As a deputy clerk I was in on all of that. Now we scan every piece of paper that belongs to a case, both courts. It’s immediately on the system and in the last 15 years, getting our dockets online, was huge.”

Lammers also recognized how unique this opportunity was for her. As a Democrat in what has become an overwhelmingly Republican county, she appreciated the continued support she received despite her political affiliation, and expressed the hope the chance she was given would transfer to other qualified individuals seeking the post.

“I would hope that we continue to have a mixture,” Lammers said. “I think that’s important. My two cents? I hope it continues to be a mixture. I don’t think it’s healthy, otherwise. Everyone deserves representation.”

I have a feeling like I’m proud and happy and I’ve done everything I can do. I can still leave at an age and a vitality where I’m going to have a good time for a while yet. And this county has given it to me.