New District Court Clerk Melissa Stellner is no stranger to the Clay Center office of the 21st Judicial District. She has worked in that office before, and she started as the new clerk on Monday.

"I was asked to come back and I enjoyed working here," Stellner said.

To keep the District Clerk's office open between Monday and previous clerk Jennifer Holmes' resignation in August, the office utilized part-time clerk JoAnn Hundley for four of the days of the week and District Magistrate Judge Bill Malcolm manned the office on the two Fridays.

As a result, the office is running a little behind on working paperwork.

"I'm working through that a little at a time," Stellner said. "There will probably be some late nights and some weekends."

Stellner said the office would have fallen apart without Hundley, who was previously the deputy clerk and has worked as the part-time clerk since her retirement about a year ago. Hundley will continue to work as the part-time clerk.

"(However), I am retired," she said.

Hundley said she was glad to see that Stellner was hired for the head clerk position. "She's my girl," she said.

Stellner has worked for the court system for four years and for the Clay Center office for a year.

She recently married and was previously the deputy district clerk. She left the position less than a year ago because her husband was reassigned to Fort Polk, but came back because she and her husband plan to retire in the area.

"I'm getting a head start on that (retirement)," she said.

Her husband is still at Fort Polk, but is close to being eligible to retire. Stellner said she will take frequent trips to Louisiana in the meantime.

Stellner has family in Clay Center, which is "part of the reason" she wants to retire here. She is the daughter of Clay County Commissioner Jerry Mayo.

Being the head clerk has "more responsibility, more administrative duties" than her previous position as deputy clerk. Stellner said she is looking forward to the new position.

Her long term goals are to work at the Clay Center office until her retirement and "to make it through this year." This year has been a particularly trying year for the District Clerk with the cuts made to the judicial system from the state level.