Ford County circuit clerk leaving after 15 sweet years
PAXTON – Residents of Paxton have a sweet tooth for Kamalen "Kammy" Johnson's cookies.
Soon, instead of heading to the Ford County Courthouse to get their fix, residents will have to find Johnson elsewhere in town.
The staff of the Ford County circuit clerk's office will be hosting an open house at the Ford County Courthouse from 1 to 4 p.m. Friday as she leaves after 15 years as circuit clerk.
Too bad for courthouse employees.
"The security guard likes the raisin cookies," circuit clerk-elect Kim Evans said.
Johnson's baking began as a way to get the boredom out of jurors at the courthouse.
"I sat there on the clerk side (Johnson was formerly an assistant public defender) and noticed how bored the jurors were," Johnson recollected.
"They would be ordered to go and leave and stand around and I thought, 'You know, if they had a cookie, they would visit. And they did.'
The cookies became a centerpiece for social interaction, according to Johnson.
"It was good to see people be OK with being there because they were killing time and they were visiting. You're going to visit with people when you've got a cup of coffee, water, a cookie, something to eat. They were able to talk to somebody who they normally would not have without it."
Evans, who will take over the circuit clerk title on Sept. 1 and has known Johnson for more than 25 years, said the cookies are also representative of Johnson's personality.
"She's always concerned about you as a person and what's going on in your life," Evans said. "Any way she can help, she would. She's thoughtful."
That thoughtfulness is evidenced by a Santa Claus-type act where Johnson drops off baked goods around holidays.
"When the employees wake up on Christmas morning, we have hot cinnamon rolls that she makes for us and delivers to us," Evans said. "Each big holiday we get candy bags – we're going to miss her."
Johnson, 49, is leaving her post to take over her late husband Dale's insurance agency, Johnson & Johnson, in downtown Paxton. She will still bake cookies, though, especially for the boys recruited by her sons and daughter, Victor, 19, Brock, 15, and Kara, 17.
"Her time here has been wonderful," Evans said of the easygoing clerk's office. "We're like a family in here."