In the 41 years she has worked in the Bradley County Courthouse, the past 11 as Circuit Court Clerk, Gayla Miller said she had never been as devastated as she was when the structure was struck by …
In the 41 years she has worked in the Bradley County Courthouse, the past 11 as Circuit Court Clerk, Gayla Miller said she had never been as devastated as she was when the structure was struck by fire several weeks ago.
However, having a disaster recovery plan in place helped the courts get back on track just days after the incident.
On Thursday, Miller spoke to members of the group Bradley County Republican, explaining that the fire occurred on a Saturday, and with assistance, her office was able to return to business on Monday morning.
"We had a disaster plan in place, and I knew that meant I was going to be in jail," she joked. Miller was talking about the movement of circuit court offices from the courthouse to various sites, with her office now at the Bradley County Judicial Complex.
Miller thanked Bradley County Sheriff Eric Watson for offering the additional space at the justice center for her offices and relocated courts, and Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland for offering the city's commission room for court. She also thanked Juvenile Judge Dan Swafford for opening up the juvenile courts building on Johnson Boulevard for certain court functions.
"We had three offices affected by the fire, three judges and several employees displaced, but all has gone well," Miller said.
She said having the plan in place was a blessing, and she was "heartbroken" to see several other offices located at the courthouse go through more difficult relocations.
The circuit court clerk said her office/courts moves was made possible not only by government officials, including County Mayor D. Gary Davis, but through her dedicated employees.
"I have 31 employees in the courts, and we all pulled together to get back to as normal business as we could, as quickly as we could," Miller said. "Being back to operate the courts on Monday was not because of me, but it was due to my employees. They have my back."
She added that the move led to a facility that went from 11 employees to 24 now being housed there. Miller said many of the clerks do not have normal contact with each other, so when they finally get back to the courthouse, "everybody is going to miss each other."
"It has definitely been an experience, but with the help of the good Lord, and great people, we are getting the job done," Miller said.
She added she will be picking up her petition to run for office again in 2018.
"Politics is tough, and people don't care [even if they know they are going] to make accusations that are false," she said, "but I enjoy the job and serving the people of Bradley County. And I am not ready to go home yet."
Miller said she does not know the plans on when the courthouse will be back in normal operation, but until then, her office will continue to provide the necessary services.
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