CEDAR RAPIDS — The clerks, court attendants and court reporters are the workers behind the scene who keep the courts functioning with fewer people and more duties, so each year the judges of the 6th Judicial District honor the employees for their service.
This year’s five main awards and other recognitions of service were presented to court staff during a ceremony Monday at the Linn County Courthouse. The 6th — Linn, Johnson, Iowa, Jones, Benton, Tama — is the only district in the state in which employees are honored this way.
District Senior Judge Nancy Baumgartner said the state stopped paying for small gifts such as T-shirts, pins and plaques after the 2001 budget cuts, but the judges decided to pay for those out of their own pockets and continue the awards.
The top five, nominated by supervisors or co-workers:
l Julie Novak, court reporter, received the Public Service Award. Chief Judge Patrick Grady in his nomination letter said Novak has been supportive of him as the chief judge, as well as to other staff professionally and in their personal lives. Novak is a staff member who has always taken on extra duties, without complaint, he noted.
“She is always positive, is generally funny and is always available to lend an ear to a colleague. She is a fabulous proofreader and is often asked by other court reporters to proof their transcripts,” Grady said in his nomination letter.
l Kim Montover, Johnson County Clerk of Court, received the Employee of the Year Award. Nicole Wiles and Tammy Anderson, both court clerks in Johnson County, nominated Montover, who has worked in Iowa courts for 22 years and the last four years as the appointed head clerk. They cited in their nomination letter her leadership during the transition of the courts going from paper to electronic filings, and her overall support of the staff: “Since being here, Kim has made our office stronger than we were before. She challenges us to be stronger employees and not just a person that shows up to do a job and collect a paycheck.”
l Johnson County court clerks received the Teamwork Award. Kim Montover nominated the staff, saying the clerks have volunteered for various challenging projects and additional duties over the last 12 to 18 months and worked together to accomplish the goals. Montover, in her nomination letter, highlighted the traffic department clerks for organizing and purging paper tickets over the last two years and redesigning the filing system to make it easier to find a certain ticket. She noted the criminal department for their work moving decades old criminal exhibits out of the boiler room, which is in the garage behind the courthouse, and the financial department, which received a clean audit with no audit comments, citing the difficulties in maintaining proper audit compliance.
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Montover also pointed out the clerks in the civil and mental health departments work “cohesively” every day and “embody teamwork as their standard.”
l Catherine Burkholder received the Distinguished Service Award. Patricia Kriz, in her nomination letter, cited Burkholder’s many accomplishments working in the traffic, civil, mental health and accounting/financial departments. She communicates effectively, builds relationships, looks for new challenges and handles all her duties with responsibility and professionalism. Kriz pointed out she will retire this year and Burkholder stepped up to take over the leadership of the accounting/financial department, which is demanding position.
l Harold Denton, retired Linn County Attorney, received the Friend of the Court Award. Judge Baumgartner said Denton was nominated because he has volunteered as a “special assistant” for the Linn County Attorney’s Office since he retired in 2010, after 35 years in the office. He works every Thursday, serving as a prosecutor to handle pleas and sentencings, which frees up other prosecutors to handle case management conferences or many times have trials and other hearings.
Many of the employees also were recognized during the ceremony for years of service.
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