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Wrenn hits 50 years service as clerk of court - Independent-Messenger: News

Wrenn hits 50 years service as clerk of court

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Posted: Wednesday, January 10, 2018 12:00 am

Robert C. “Bobby” Wrenn was sworn in for his seventh term as Clerk of Greensville County Court in December 2015.

Last week Wrenn celebrated his 50th anniversary as Clerk of Court. He followed in the footsteps of his father, J. Sol Wrenn, who held that same position for more than 38 years.

After his father had a stroke, Wrenn dropped out of school to go to court for his father for 1.5 years. However, you had to be 21 to run for the office and Wrenn was not old enough. Fast forward 16 years later and Wrenn, at the urging of residents in the community, ran for the office and was elected.

He is now the longest serving elected county constitutional officer and has six more years to serve before election time rolls around. He was elected to an 8-year term.

When Wrenn first worked at the Clerk’s Office for his father, they still dipped pens in ink to write, he said, noting that everything was then typed up and now is done on the computer. “Things are now computerized,” said Wrenn. “What a difference than when I first started.”

While other people his age are retired, Wrenn remains very active. “Serving as Clerk of Greensville County Court is still fun,” he said, noting that he still sees things that he has never ran into before.

He’s also appreciative to all the great employees who have worked in the office for the fast half-century as well as the residents that have elected him. “I’m very appreciative of people’s support for so long. It has been and still is an honor and a privilege. It really is. I am also very blessed to have dedicated employees who have always tried to serve the public and we continue to serve the public.”

Wrenn talked about the changes he has seen in the past 50 years. “I’ve seen massive changes made in the way we preserve records and expect we will make many more changes in the future. I will continue to look for grants to preserve our old books and eagerly work with the latest technology to provide even better services for citizens,” Wrenn said.

“Through the years we have been blessed with good employees who have served the public well and has made the job even more pleasurable.”

Virginia has added its 22nd e-recording jurisdiction, Greensville County, to Simplifile’s e-recording network earlier this year, enabling both local and national customers to submit documents online for faster, more efficient recording, Wrenn pointed out.

Greensville County is now accepting electronic land documents for recording through Simplifile, the nation’s largest electronic recording (e-recording) service, providing customers with a faster, more convenient, ‘paperless’ recording option.

Instead of having to submit documents by mail, courier service, or driving to the clerk’s office to record documents, customers such as title companies, banks, attorneys, and others will now be able to log in to Simplifile’s online service and have documents recorded in minutes, Wrenn explained.

There is a small fee for each record that is recorded. That fee is paid by the person submitting the document but would cost less than driving to the clerk’s office and filing the document, especially if the person lives out of town, Wrenn pointed out.

Through Simplifile’s secure, web-based service, users simply scan, upload and submit their documents, enabling the county to receive them electronically, review, stamp, record and return them back to the submitter through Simplifile in minutes, explained Mar Arrowood, a representative of Simplifile.

Most people have a vague idea of what the duties of the Greensville County Clerk’s Office is, but few realize what records are kept and are available to the public to look at.

For a long time the court was run by “Gentlemen Justices,” but now by attorneys who are appointed as judges, he explained.

The records in the clerk’s office go back to when Greensville County was formed, 1781. “We still have (far as I know) the original records,” said Wrenn. “Many have been restored at great expense. We have been fortunate in obtaining grants to restore many books, saving the City and County many dollars.”

He went on to say that there are 900 record books in the clerk’s office which contain about 540,000 pages of records. Staff has added over 9,000 criminal files since Wrenn has been Clerk, as well as several thousand civil suits.

He also explained the office’s method of recording documents. “Originally every paper was copied in ink. Next the clerks used a typewriter to copy then photocopy the documents (white writing on black pages). Next came microfilming.

“We photocopy, sent the film off to be processed and returned with print outs of pages. That microfilm is kept in Richmond at the State Library. Now, we scan paper into the computer. This is backed up and sent to Richmond every month.

“We are now becoming a paperless office for civil suits and criminal cases. Judges and attorneys will be able to pull up complete files on their computer. This will be a big time saver for everyone,” Wrenn stressed.

The Clerk’s Office has old maps framed such as State highway maps of Greensville County in 1932 and 1926. There is also an 1832 map of Hick’s Ford showing the courthouse and the racetrack near Southampton Street. There is a map from 1864 with part of the county with land owners and also an 1864 Confederate States map of Greensville County and part of North Carolina with landowners as well as a City zoning map from 1958.

Also at the Clerk’s Office is framed listings of those persons who participated in the War Between the States, War of 1812, Revolutionary Patriots, and also a local muster roll from April 1862.

In the front office there is an oil painting of Major James Wall, the first Sheriff of Greensville County and a soldier in the Revolution.

Wrenn went on to explain that Emporia-Greensville is part of the 6th Judicial Circuit. Also included in this area is Brunswick, Sussex, Surry, Prince George and Hopewell.

He went on to explain that the Grand Jury meets every two months to decide on new cases and the regular jury of prospective members meet for orientation that day. If you are over 70 you can claim an exemption so you won’t have to serve on a jury.

Until about six years ago the clerk’s Office was the place where people gathered to get the election returns because the vote tally and the ballot boxes were brought into the office. Now election results are taken to the Registrar’s Office. The Clerk’s Office no longer issues Hunting and Fishing Licenses.

Records in the Clerk’s Office are public records, except for adoptions, juvenile records, papers that have Social Security numbers on them and those sealed by the Court or wills that are in the office for safe keeping. “You can come into the Clerk’s office to see any of the records,” he said. “As employees, we do not discuss suits, land transfers, judgments or criminal matters. We believe that the records are private even though anyone can examine them.

There are 784 duties of the Clerk in the code of Virginia, including recording deeds, deeds of trusts, certificates of satisfaction, plats, issuing concealed weapon permits, marriage licenses, entering civil suits, divorce, creating criminal files, issuing subpoenas, drawing juries, filing all criminal papers, tagging evidence, preparing orders, recording military discharges, and recording judgments. The Clerk’s Office is also the official place to administer oaths of office.

There have been only 15 clerks starting with Peter Pelham.

The Clerk’s Office has a deed book from 1871 signed by him.

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