Rowan County clerk earns another top honor

Published 12:05 am Thursday, May 5, 2016

By Josh Bergeron

SALISBURY — There’s not many clerks quite like Carolyn Barger.

Last year, Barger was named the best county clerk in North Carolina by the state’s association of clerks. She was the first clerk in Rowan County to receive that honor. This year, she became one of only seven clerks in the state to receive the UNC School of Government’s inaugural Master County Clerk designation. Only four county clerks in the state, including Barger, have received both awards.

To get the Master County Clerk designation, she needed to complete more than 100 hours of continuing education in three years and maintain a Certified County Clerk designation. She ended up with 131.5 hours of education — a good bit more than she needed. However, she was nervous about whether she’d reached the 100-hour minimum.

“I was sweating bullets when it was time to file my application for the certification,” she said.

Recipients of the Master County Clerk designation was announced earlier in 2016, and Rowan County commissioners formally recognized Barger’s achievement during their meeting this week. During Monday’s meeting, commissioners spoke about her role in keeping county government running smoothly.

When commissioners presented Barger with a certificate, Chairman Greg Edds said: “We wanted to present this to her and to tell her that we really know who runs the county around here, and we appreciate what she does for us. … It has been documented. We have one of the best (clerks) in the state, and we would argue the best in North Carolina.”

Barger said serving the public is her favorite part of being a clerk.

“One of the best things about being a clerk is being able to make a difference, not only to the people you’re appointed by, but to the people that they serve,” she said.

Being able to make a difference, however, requires ample amounts of patience.

“When somebody walks in the door and they’re angry, sometimes they walk out smiling because I’ve been able to help,” she said. “I’m the first person that they see. A lot of times if they come in, they’re upset, demanding to see a county commissioner and willing to share with me what their problem is, a lot of times, I can fix it.”

Barger has served under a total of 19 county commissioners and four county managers. She was hired as a deputy clerk for Rowan County in 1999 and promoted to her current position in 2005. Her official title is clerk to the Rowan County Board of Commissioners and assistant to the county manager.

Her time in local government also includes working as a part-time clerk for the town of Cleveland. Previously, she also worked for the Salisbury Machinery Co. as a secretary and bookkeeper.

From 2013 to 2014, she was president of the North Carolina Association of County Clerks.

Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246.