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The Smith County Communications Office strives to promote transparency by providing the public with the most accurate, accessible and up-to-date information possible while promoting the county's brand and message of "Striving for Excellence."

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Tyler, Texas 75702

Phone: 903-590-4607
Email: Casey Murphy


County News

Smith County Employee Recognitions

Smith County employees were recognized during Commissioners Court on Tuesday for a combined total of 137 years of service.

Paula Davis was recognized for 20 years of dedication to Smith County.

“She has done everything for the Juvenile Services Department over the years,” Juvenile Services Director Ross Worley said. “Her experience, knowledge and work ethic are priceless to us. She’s seriously one of my right hands.”

Ms. Davis actually started working for the Smith County Juvenile Services Department more than 22 years ago as a part-time case aide while attending UT Tyler to earn a bachelor’s degree in behavioral science in 1997.

After graduating, she was hired as a probation officer in January 2000. She then supervised juveniles who were serving court deferred probation. After several years, Ms. Davis was assigned to the Placement Unit. In 2010, she became the Intensive Resource Coordinator and relocated to administration while still supervising a caseload. In 2016, Juvenile Services opened its residential program, Hope Academy. Today, Ms. Davis serves as programs director/juvenile probation officer. She is responsible for the Hope Academy and contract detention bed and placement facility contracts, as well as facility evaluations, programs with outside agencies, invoices and applications for funding sources. She attends many board and committee meetings in the community.

“I love my job and my work family,” Ms. Davis said. “They are the best, not to mention Boss Ross (Worley)! I would not change any event or position of my career at Smith County Juvenile Services. I have always believed that if the work we do through the services we provide to the youth we supervise reaches any one child it is worth the journey.”


Dana Pugh was also recognized for 20 years of service to Smith County.

“I’m very fortunate Dana has been with the county for 20 years,” Tax Assessor-Collector Gary Barber said, noting that she worked there before he was elected. “She helped train me. It is a pleasure to have had her for 20 years of dedicated service.”

Ms. Pugh started out working for Smith County as a property tax clerk. After six months, she transferred to the research department for a month. Since then, she has been working as property tax bookkeeper. Ms. Pugh checks the property tax clerks daily, makes sure the collections reports balance to the money collected, makes the deposits, takes care of web payments, handles the refunds of overpayments and does journal entries. On a monthly basis, she balances the bank statements and makes sure the jurisdictions reports balance with the funds collected.


Barber was honored by Commissioner Jeff Warr for 15 years of service.

“Gary has become a shining light throughout the state,” Warr said. “Gary is well respected and liked by everybody in the community.”

Warr said Barber’s staff mimics his personality. “They have that servant’s heart,” he said. “I appreciate his service and his friendship.”


Chet Thomas was recognized for 15 years of service to the county. He started his career as an investigator for the District Attorney’s Office, but went to Juvenile Services to serve as Juvenile Justice Alternative Education Program Administrator in 2005. He also worked for nearly 10 years as deputy director/facility administrator for the department. As director of residential detention/post facility, he oversees the Juvenile Services’ correctional facility and long-term residential facility for juvenile offenders, including hiring staff, internal investigations and budgeting. He also is a board member for the Texas Juvenile Detention Association.

“Congratulations on 15 years,” Worley told him during Commissioners Court.


Commissioner Terry Phillips praised Elections Administrator Karen Nelson for her 15 years of service to the county. “We want to honor Karen for 15 years,” he said. “She has been an asset to elections.”


Ms. Nelson recognized Joanna Stanfield for 10 years of work with the Elections Office. She said Ms. Stanfield has more than 20 years of elections experience, having worked first for Upshur County. “I appreciate your work,” she said.


Michael Willard was honored for 10 years of service with the Facility Services Department.

Facility Services Director Ed Nichols said years ago, he worked as a maintenance man in the jail with Willard. “It’s a tough way to spend your days,” he said, adding that every task is harder when you work in a secured facility like a jail. “Mike is always on time and is always willing to help with anything.”

Willard does the work, no matter how dirty or nasty, small or large, complicated or simple it is.

“He is a valuable asset to Smith County and a large part of the success of our department,” Nichols said. “We look forward to many more years.”


County Court-at-Law Judge Jason Ellis and his Criminal Court Coordinator Phyllis Duke were both recognized for five years of service.

County Judge Nathaniel Moran said Smith County has fantastic, top-of-the-line County Court-at-Law and District Judges.

Moran credited Ellis with helping start the county’s mental health court.

“Judge Ellis has done a wonderful job … thank you for working so hard for the citizens of Smith County,” Moran said.


When recognizing Ms. Duke, Ellis said she is a self-starter who goes above and beyond. “She really cares about what we do,” he said. She often is the first one to the office and the last one to leave. She is always polite and merciful, he said. “Ms. Duke is fantastic,” Ellis said. “Thank you for all of your hard work.”


County Court-at-Law 2 Judge Taylor Heaton recognized his Court Administrator and Criminal Court Coordinator, Paul Clarkston, for five years of service. “He takes a lot of pride in what we do,” Heaton said, adding that Clarkston has actually worked for Smith County for much more than five years and has worked for several judges throughout the years.


Alma Delgado has worked for the County Clerk’s Office for five years.

“She is one of our favorite ladies in land records,” County Clerk Karen Phillips said.

After working for five years in Anderson County, she volunteered for Smith County until a position became available in the County Clerk’s Office. Mrs. Phillips said Ms. Delgado is a hard worker and a dedicated team player who always has a smile on her face.


Commissioner JoAnn Hampton recognized Purchasing Director Kim Gould for five years of service. She said she encouraged Mrs. Gould to earn her bachelor’s degree from her alma mater, Texas College. Now, Mrs. Gould is studying to get her master’s degree from UT Tyler. Mrs. Gould worked for the Purchasing Department for several years and left the county before returning to become Purchasing Director five years ago.


Commissioner Cary Nix honored Le’Kisha Stinecipher, who is working her last week as Animal Control and Shelter Coordinator. Mrs. Stinecipher has worked for the county for seven years. She became coordinator in May 2017, and is leaving the post to begin a career in ministry. Her last day is Thursday.

Other employee who were recognized, but not in court, for December and January work anniversaries include:

20 Years: Virgil Wilson, Road and Bridge

15 Years: Tina Glover and Sherry Hammack, Sheriff’s Office; and Ernestine Flournoy, Juvenile Services

10 Years: Rudolph Poe, Sheriff’s Office; and Katherine Zemer, Constable, Precinct 5

5 Years: Dr. Joe Heath, Adult Probation; Emily Starkey, District Attorney’s Office; Heath Johnston and Bobby Ragon, Road and Bridge; Jacob Brown, Denisha Jones, Jose Moreno and Stephanie Veasey, Sheriff’s Office; and Jeffrey McClenny, Constable, Precinct 5

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