Morgan license commissioner retires
By Michael Wetzel
For the Enquirer
In the first year of her second term as Morgan County commissioner of licenses, Sharon Maxwell said her priorities in life have changed, and she retired Friday.
“I want to spend more time with family,” said Maxwell, 63, who began working in the license office in 2002. “I will miss my staff the most. It’s hard. I’m going to miss the job itself. I enjoy it.
However, “I know where my priority is, and it’s family first.”
Maxwell said family members include her husband Johnny, pastor of Nature’s Trail Church in Priceville, two grown children and two grandchildren.
She was first elected to the position in 2014 when her predecessor, Sue Baker Roan, retired, and Maxwell ran unopposed in 2020.
Her successor will be appointed by Gov. Kay Ivey, possibly “early this month,” according to Morgan County Commission Chairman Ray Long.
The position pays $87,986.76.
Deputy License Commissioner Monica Reed will serve as interim commissioner until an appointment is made.
Morgan County Republican Party Chairwoman Julie Clausen said six people originally applied for Maxwell’s position, but one dropped out. The five applicants’ names sent to Ivey’s office were Kate Terry, Charles
Bryant, Dewey Mason, Chris Greenstein and Rachel Hammers, Clausen said.
Maxwell said leaving her elected position early in a term wasn’t an easy decision, “but it was the right one.” She said there wasn’t a single thing aside from her desire to spend more time with family that led her to the decision to retire.
“First and foremost, I want to thank the Lord. If it wasn’t for Him, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity,” she said. “He placed me here and gave me the ability and knowledge to do what I have done.
“The accomplishments we’ve made in this office have been a team effort,” she added. “It hasn’t just been Sharon. It’s been the county commission chairman, the county commission and the office staff. It’s been everybody working together to better this office for our patrons.”
The COVID-related changes in the workload at the courthouse were challenging, and she lost sleep at times, she said.
“I was always trying to think of ways to help the customers get what they needed during times like that,” she said. “My mind was constantly going. ‘How are we going to handle this when we open back up?’ I asked myself during the six weeks we were closed in March and April 2020.”
She said she worried the courthouse office would be overwhelmed with customers when it reopened.
“We set up appointments to allow people to trickle in and let them have specific times. We let them know what documents they needed to bring,” she said. “It helped with the quantity of people in the office and hallway. The office staff had input, and we were all onboard with the decision.”
Likely because of the pandemic, she said, online business with the license office is up 40 percent.
“It’s a nice convenience for the patrons,” she said. “They don’t have to leave their home or office. Some things can’t be done online, but it’s a great tool, and it eliminates the long lines and keeps them safe and healthy.”
She said customers will be happy when new satellite offices open in Hartselle and Lacey’s Spring, possibly by the end of the month.
The Hartselle office, moving from Crestwood Shopping Center to Shull Road, will have five assessment clerk stations and a separate driver’s license station. The Lacey’s Spring office, at the District 4 shop, will house three assessment clerk stations and a driver’s license station.
The current sites have four and two clerks, respectively.
Maxwell said adding clerks at the satellite offices was one of her goals this term.
“From the bottom of my heart, I want to thank the voters for giving me the opportunity and trusting in me to do the job. It’s been wonderful,” she said.
Long called Maxwell a “natural fit” as license commissioner.
“She had worked in the office for a long time and knew how to do the job,” he said. “She’s been easy to work with on the budget. She’s going to be missed.”