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A changing of the guard at the McDonough County Courthouse

Ian Fischer and Kim Wilson in the circuit clerk's office at the McDonough County Courthouse.
Rich Egger
Ian Fischer and Kim Wilson in the circuit clerk's office at the McDonough County Courthouse.

Kim Wilson started out as a bookkeeper in the McDonough County circuit clerk’s office in 1987. She worked her way up through the ranks and was first elected circuit clerk in 2004.

Now, 18 years later, Wilson said it is time to step down to be with family. Her final day on the job will be Wednesday, August 31.

Wilson said she has enjoyed the challenge of running the office.

“There’s always something new. Everything changes daily. I tell everybody that you never learn everything. There’s always something new – new statutes, new laws going on all the time, and we’ve just installed new software so that’s a big new learning curve for us,” Wilson said.

The circuit clerk is the keeper of the files of the court. She said that means the office handles the files for adoptions, divorces, probates, small claims, criminal cases, traffic cases, passports, and much more.

One challenge has been to digitize those records.

“When I first took over as clerk, the attic was full (at the courthouse) and the county’s west building was full with all old files,” Wilson said.

They have now all been scanned.

“We have gotten rid of all the old files. They were all sent to the state. We even did our wills, which were very fragile because we had them back in the 1800s.”

Wilson said she will miss the people she works with daily, including employees in the circuit clerk’s office as well as attorneys and judges.

The new circuit clerk

Chief Deputy Circuit Clerk Ian Fischer will fill out the remainder of Wilson’s term beginning on Thursday, September 1. He said he intends to run for election in 2024.

Fischer was a journalist in Macomb before he joined the circuit clerk’s office in 2006 as a deputy clerk in the criminal division.

“When I was a journalist, I was in the courthouse a lot and I enjoyed the atmosphere. I enjoyed working with the people here in the courthouse,” he said.

“A lot of it is the community in the courthouse …the employees, judges, everyone involved.”

Like Wilson, Fischer worked his way up through the ranks. He is currently second-in-command in the office.

“I’m excited about the opportunity to be the circuit clerk,” he said. “Kim is leaving us in a good position.”

He said an early challenge will be adapting to the state’s upcoming no-cash bond law. He said McDonough County will be involved in a pilot project for that program.

Tri States Public Radio produced this story.  TSPR relies on financial support from our readers and listeners in order to provide coverage of the issues that matter to west central Illinois, southeast Iowa, and northeast Missouri. As someone who values the content created by TSPR's news department please consider making a financial contribution.

Rich is TSPR's News Director.