Deputy clerks at the Ouachita Parish Courthouse say morale has improved at the Clerk of Court’s office since Dana Benson was elected to the office’s top post last fall.
Benson was sworn in as the Ouachita Parish Clerk of Court last week. Retired Judge Benjamin “Ben” Jones, who is the administrator at Fourth Judicial District Court, administered the oath of office to Benson in the Clerk of Court’s office.
Benson was elected last November. Former Clerk of Court Louise Bond retired from office several months before the election.
“I would like to thank everybody for their support and having the faith in me to do the job,” Benson said. “I hope they will continue to keep me in their prayers and that I’m able to fulfill the position to the best of my abilities.”
Beginning in January, Benson worked as chief deputy clerk under interim Clerk of Court Dena Peters in preparation for her role leading the office.
“There has been a definite change since she’s been over in January,” deputy clerk Michelle Smith said. “Just the morale seems better.”
Benson said she worked “side by side” with Peters, the interim clerk.
“Dena felt it was in the best interest of the office for me to be appointed chief deputy, which would allow me to have more hands on dealings with the clerk,” Benson said.
Deputy clerk David Pederson echoed Smith’s remarks about an improvement in office morale.
“I think people are looking forward to new beginnings,” Pederson said. “People are excited to see what she’s going to bring to the office.”
During her campaign last fall, Benson pledged to make electronic filing available in the civil department, to update the office’s website and convert each department to using the same software.
According to Smith, the change to using Software & Services as the office’s software provider helped bring the Clerk of Court office up to date.
“That helps us be able to help the customer more,” Smith said. “It puts things at our fingertips to help the customer. It’s just more efficient. There’s more productivity once we learn that new system.”
According to Benson, she also has added a new position to the office, assigning her assistant, Debbie Rankin, to handle human resources duties at the office.
“We have never had a human resource department,” Benson said. “We now have one.”
Benson told The Ouachita Citizen she was proud to say none of the employees at the Clerk of Court’s office have lost their jobs since she won election in November.
“During the election, someone had started a rumor that I had intentions of terminating certain people,” Benson said. “Never was that my intention. My goal was to keep everyone.”
“You were here yesterday, and you were here today, and I intend for you to be here however long I’m here,” she added.