Dougherty County Clerk Barbara Engram, right, hugs Janice Hancock at a reception Monday at the Candy Room on Pine Avenue. Engram is retiring today after 22 years of service to the county.
ALBANY -- For nearly 22 years, Barbara Engram has been the braintrust of the Dougherty County Commission.
As Dougherty County Clerk, Engram and her staff has scheduled the public meetings of the commission, taken and filed the official minutes of the meetings, and has served as the official custodian of record for all documents pertaining to the county commission since 1990.
Today, however, she'll stroll into work for the last time. She'll file the minutes away from her final meeting and close the drawer on her own personnel file.
After 22 years, Barbara Engram is retiring.
At a reception for Engram held at the Candy Room on Pine Avenue Monday, current and former county officials showered the future retiree with well wishes, bidding her success on the next chapter of her life.
Of all of the presently-elected county officials, perhaps none have spent more time with Engram than Chairman Jeff "Bodine" Sinyard and Commissioner Jack Stone.
Using a football analogy, Sinyard described Engram as one of the behind-the-scenes workhorses of the county government.
"I see Barbara as the person who helped put the playbook together and then helped the commission execute the policies and the plays," Sinyard said. "We call her when we have issues or need to set up a meeting... at the end of the day, if we look good, it's because of the work she's done."
In his typical fashion, Stone put his comments more simply.
"We came in about the same time and she's always been there for me," he said. "She doesn't know how much I've relied on her."
Dougherty County Administrator Richard Crowdis, whose office is adjacent to Engram's on the fifth floor of the government center, said Engram was as jovial as she was dedicated.
"She's been my right hand for many, many years," Crowdis said. "One of the main things I think I'll miss is that infectious laugh that you can hear all the way down the hall....I wish (Engram) the best."
Former County Commissioner Chuck Lingle broke down while sharing his words about Engram.
"We're losing a member of a dynamic duo," Lingle said, fighting back tears. "We wish you all the best."
Commissioner Gloria Gaines thanked Engram for helping her get adjusted to life as an elected county official after she got elected for her first political term.
Commissioner Muarlean Edwards said she echoed Sinyard's comment saying that "the Dougherty County Commission is so good because we have employees who make us look good. I wish you well on the next part of your life."
Nancy Hillsman, the deputy clerk who has worked alongside Engram in the clerk's office, told those at the reception Monday that Engram was irreplaceable.
"You're position may have been filled, but you will never be replaced," Hillsman said.
The clerk's duties will now fall on JaWahn Ware, a county employee who has risen through the ranks.
When asked to speak a few words, Engram said she had a great career working for the county but would now start the next chapter of her life seeing the world.
"I've had a great 21 or 22 years," Engram said. "I've tried to make it fun and everyone has put up with me. I'm going to go travel and ya'll are welcome to come with me."
That traveling includes a two-week stint later this year in Hawaii where she plans to vacation with a group of friends she's had since kindergarten known as "the queens."
Ware will officially take over as clerk on Wednesday.