After serving the citizens of Hancock County as Chancery Clerk for the last 28 years, Tim Kellar will officially retire at the end of 2023. He plans to stay on to assist in the transition of the newly elected chancery clerk in early 2024.
– By Maurice Singleton
“There hasn’t been a day that I wasn’t excited to come to work,” said Kellar. As the child of a public servant, Kellar knew his calling from a young age. His father, Dolph Kellar, also served Hancock County for seven consecutive terms as a member of the Board of Supervisors.
Although proud to follow in his father’s footsteps, for Tim it was more than that. He had done some research into his family history and discovered that the German origin of “Kellar” was the name given to the people who lived in the cellars of wealthy homes. “The “Kellars” were servants,” said Kellar.
“I knew at an early age I got my real satisfaction in life not from dollars, but by providing service for people that need help,” said Kellar. “I still do. There’s nothing more exciting for me than to have someone stand in that doorway and say, ‘I need your help.’”
During Kellar’s first 14 years as Chancery Clerk, he also served as the County Administrator. He recalled a meeting of the Board of Supervisors in February of 1996, when the board lingered after the meeting and talked about priorities for each member. Some of the interests and issues included sewer and water systems and a possible bike path on the beach, to name a few.
Those board members were Jeep Ladner, Philip Moran, Rocky Pullman, Steve Seymour, and Lisa Cowan. Labeled the Baby Boomer Board, Kellar said the group was committed to improving Hancock County, resulting in the achievement of just about every goal.
The Bay of St. Louis had been declared the second most polluted body of water in the state. Kellar recalled the reason for that was the inadequacy of the sewer system, with septic tanks that had been installed in Shoreline Park and Jordan River Shores, among other places. When the water would rise during storms or hurricanes it would flood the septic tanks, and the runoff would dump into the bayous and end up in the Bay of St. Louis.
Federal grant money came in after Hurricane Katrina, which helped to expedite the planning and efforts of the Board of Supervisors, particularly in its effort to achieve a centralized sewer system across the county.
Kellar said the Bay of St. Louis is no longer on the list of most polluted bodies of water in Mississippi. He is also extremely proud of the way his office worked with the Board of Supervisors in that effort as well as in the recovery efforts after Hurricane Katrina.
“At the end of the day, he [Kellar] was a part of the team and the success of the team,” said Rocky Pullman, former Board of Supervisors member. “He worked diligently to preserve the integrity of the county, helping to make sure we didn’t become something we weren’t.”
“Tim has tremendous integrity and impeccable character,” said Philip Moran, Mississippi State Senator and former member of the Hancock Board of Supervisors. “The biggest thing I think of when I think of him is integrity. I think of Tim as a brother.”
Kellar said that the Chancery Clerk’s office has changed a great deal since he started in January of 1996. Automation has simplified processes and improved turnaround times. Processes that once took weeks have been reduced to days, sometimes minutes.
“We’ve simplified and made the Chancery Clerk’s operation a lot more user-friendly, so people are not so intimidated,” said Kellar. “There was a time people felt like they had to have an attorney just to get information. Now they just walk in, and we can hand it to them.”
Citizens often come to the Chancery Clerk during the lowest time of their lives, after the death of a loved one. They need someone to help them work through an estate or explain how to transfer property to the descendants. Kellar says that the Chancery Clerk also assists family members of individuals struggling with mental health issues.
“This position puts me in a place of dealing with people at their lowest times,” said Kellar, “so it’s certainly thrust me in the middle of some situations when people need more help and understanding than ever before.
“I’ve spent a lot of time with very knowledgeable attorneys who have shared things with me. So when a citizen comes in and talks with me, I talk to them as a lay person,” said Kellar. “I make it known to them. And I am able to provide knowledge to people to help them understand that they don’t necessarily have to hire an attorney to do what they need to get done.
“I get a lot of satisfaction from doing for the people, providing that kind of service,” Kellar added. “It’s been a very rewarding 28 years for me.”
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