Town clerk celebrated for four decades of compassion

Barbara (B.J.) Morris Williams recently was honored for 40 years of service to the Town of Batesburg-Leesville police department. (Staff photo by Tony Baughman)

 

Soft-spoken and demure, Barbara Morris Williams celebrated 40 years of service to the Batesburg-Leesville Police Department and the citizens of the B-L community on August 17.

B.J. (as she is fondly known) was honored for her dedication with a surprise luncheon given by the Town and its police department at Wiz’s Eatery that day.

More than 50 family and friends turned out to congratulate her and wish her well. B.J. doesn’t understand what all the fuss was about. “I’m just me,” she said. “Other people have worked 40 years at the same job.”

Asked numerous times why she has stayed with this position for so long, she replied it was because she liked to help the citizens of the community.

Fresh out of high school, B. J. was plunged into a whole new world when she began working with the police department. Her job as dispatcher/jailer required her to work rotating shifts. Growing up, B.J. was always in bed asleep at midnight. To her, the next day was when she woke up and the sun was shining.

When she began working the midnight shift, someone from the police department was dispatched to her home to wake her up and get her to work — until she become accustomed to the new routine. It took a little time, but she soon learned that at 12 midnight a whole new day started.

B.J. also served as clerk of court part time, and after Ruth Hinton’s retirement about 1996 she took on that position full time.

Her duties as clerk of court are numerous, and her days are busy. Municipal court is held every Tuesday night, and jury trials are held on Wednesday night every three to four weeks. B.J. notifies victims of crime as well as lawyers about court dates. She is responsible for every case jacket available for court, which includes all of the paperwork involved; keeps files up-to-date; and sends out jury notifications.

B.J. attends continuing education classes every year at the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy and at the S.C. Summary Court Judges Association. She has attended clerk of court seminars at Myrtle Beach as well.

Along with the monthly reports to Town Hall, B.J. sends an electronic disposition to the State Law Enforcement Division after each court case is disposed of. She also sends a judicial survey to the South Carolina Court Administrator concerning funds taken in during the past year. These monies are taken in as fees from case-loads that include municipal codes, DUI, traffic, and criminal cases. In addition to all her other duties, she is a certified 911 operator.

But the area where she really “shines,” according to Police Chief Wallace Oswald, is victims’ assistant. This means she helps people who have been victims of crime navigate the court system and the victims’ assistance system.

“She keeps in touch with the victims so they don’t feel they have been pushed aside. She has handled that extremely well over the years,” Chief Oswald said.

“When we have a major crime with victims in the middle of the night,” B.J. will be there, he said. She doesn’t wait until the next day; she is on the scene that night to help the family the best way she can — even if it’s by just being there, which is a big help. That is what she is all about, and she is very good at it, Chief Oswald said.

B.J.’s caring and compassion are well known in the community. She is married to Jacob “Book” Williams. After her retirement in the not-too-foreseeable future, she hopes to continue to work part-time on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays.

But what she really looks forward to as a practicing Jehovah’s Witness is going door-to-door, sharing God’s word.

Story by Anna Long / Posted September 3, 2019