Big shoes occupied by new feet

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 3, 2008

The histories of Southampton and Isle of Wight counties are passing a benchmark this week.

Three longtime officials are stepping aside, and torches have been passed in the clerk of the court offices in both counties, as well as the commissioner of revenue’s office in Southampton.

In a historic day for Southampton County, the torch was passed between retiring Circuit Court Clerk Wayne Cosby and the incoming court clerk, Rick Francis. Cosby

has held the office since 1981.

Cosby then administered the oath of office to incoming Southampton Commissioner of the Revenue Amy Carr, who will take the reins from John Robert Harrup, who is retiring. Harrup took office in 1994.

In Isle of Wight County, Sharon Nelms-Jones takes over as clerk of the court from William E. Laine, who has spent the last 34 years in public office. Laine was appointed in 1973 and was challenged in the 1975 election. He was never challenged again.

The 69-year-old Laine has served as clerk longer than any other county elected official has held the post.

The Laine family has been a prominent name on the county’s political horizon since 1908, when William Elliot Laine was appointed deputy treasurer in 1908 and elected treasurer three years later.

When he died in 1930, his son assumed the office and remained there for nearly 40 years.

All three newcomers have big shoes to fill, both for current public service and to the annals of history.

In a brief speech after taking the oath of office, Francis told clerk’s office employees, “The only thing I want to make sure to do is that we treat everybody the same.”

That would be good advice to all.