A new chapter: Circuit Clerk Vickie Hariel retires after 38 years of public service

Published 7:00 am Saturday, December 19, 2015



Friday, the circuit courtroom in the Pearl River County Courthouse was filled with emotion as the community bid farewell to Circuit Clerk Vickie Hariel at her retirement celebration.

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Hariel announced her retirement in February after serving the people of Pearl River County for 38 years, 16 of which were as circuit clerk.

She said the hardest part about retiring is not seeing the people she’s used to working with on a daily basis.

“I’ve had many people come by and wish me well. I just love everyone that I work with. It’s been such an awesome experience. Back in February, I was giddy and I never pictured I would feel the emotions I would feel now. I’m keeping my Kleenex box very close,” Hariel said. “It’s been a very personal reward to me and an honor to serve.”

Hariel began her public service career in 1977 working as deputy clerk under former Pearl River County Circuit Clerk J. Monroe Spiers. When he retired, Hariel worked as chief deputy clerk under former Circuit Clerk Peggy Staten.

In 1999, she decided to run for the circuit clerk position and won a three-candidate primary outright with no runoff, receiving more than 60 percent of the vote in the general election.

During her service, voting machines became electronic, a county court was instituted in 2011 and court records transitioned from typewritten documents and hand-written dockets to computerized systems.

Many of Hariel’s coworkers said the office won’t be the same without her.

Zeneta John, deputy circuit clerk, worked alongside Hariel for the past 15 years.

“It’s been a blessing and a joy. She’s a great circuit clerk,” John said.

Deputy Circuit Clerk Jansen Owen said Hariel made his first career move a positive experience.

“Vickie hired me in high school and I have been here for almost five years. It has been an honor to have been able to work with the perfect example of how a true public servant should be. She has served this county well and I am so grateful to have been able to start my career with her,” Owen said.

Clerk Jennifer Matherne, who’s worked with Hariel for the past six years, said

she’s learned much under her wing.

“I’ve learned so much while working with Ms. Vickie and I admire her dedication and desire to serve the county,” Matherne said.

Clerk Ruthie Keller said she hates seeing Hariel go, especially since she only started working with her in June.

“I’ve really enjoyed working for her and I hate that she’s retiring and I appreciate the pleasure of getting to work for her. It’s been short, but sweet,” Keller said.

Beth Keeling, deputy clerk, said Hariel has always stood by her side, especially in the past six months during Keeling’s breast cancer treatment.

“I’ve worked here for three years. She’s so honest and sweet,” Keeling said.

“I’m certainly going to miss the wonderful friendships and the people I work with everyday that make the job a joy,” Hariel said. “It’s also been rewarding to aid people in the county that are looking for someone to help them.”

Once retired, Hariel said she plans to spend time with her granddaughters, Madison and Destiny, travel and remain an active participant in the community.

Hariel served four terms and will leave office Jan. 3, 2016. Nance Fitzpatrick Stokes will take office on Jan. 4.