Ozark County officials sworn in to begin new terms
Ozark County’s officials were sworn into their new terms by Associate Judge Raymond Gross and Clerk Brian Wise on Friday, Dec. 30, in the upstairs courtroom at the Ozark County Courthouse in Gainesville.
Among those being sworn in are three new officials: Prosecuting Attorney Lee Pipkins, Presiding Commissioner Terry Newton and Circuit Clerk and Recorder of Deeds Jackie Smith, along with three returning officials: Collector Darla Sullivan, Treasurer Christy Thompson and Clerk Brian Wise.
Prosecutor Lee Pipkins
Lee Pipkins, who most recently served as an attorney for Pointer Blackburn & Brown in Gainesville, was sworn as Ozark County Prosecuting Attorney after running unopposed for the position last fall. As prosecutor, Pipkins is tasked with filing felony and misdemeanor charges and otherwise representing the state in various prosecutions. Pipkins replaces Matthew Weatherman, who served as Ozark County Prosecutor in 2021-22, fulfilling the last two years of the term of John Garrabrant, who retired in the fall of 2020. Last fall Weatherman chose to file to run as prosecuting attorney of Douglas County instead of Ozark. No one filed against him in that race, and he is now serving in that position. The Ozark County Prosecutor’s Office is located off the south side of the Gainesville square. To reach the prosecutor’s office, call 417-679-4648.
Ozark County Presiding
Commissioner Terry Newton
Terry Newton is now serving as presiding commissioner of Ozark County, replacing John Turner who ended his 8-year tenure in December. Both men ran for the position in the fall, and Newton edged out both Turner and candidate Joe Corbin with a vote of 742 (Newton) to 598 (Turner) to 411 (Corbin). Newton, who retired from a 21-year career serving as an insurance agent with Shelter Insurance in December 2021, lives in Dora with his wife Rhonda Lewis Newton. The commissioner’s office is located in the upper level of the Ozark County Courthouse in Gainesville. Commissioners meetings are held at 9 a.m. each Monday. They are open to the public. To reach the commissioner’s office, call 417-679-4096.
Ozark County’s Circuit Clerk and
Recorder of Deeds Jackie Smith
Jackie Smith has been sworn in as the Circuit Clerk and Recorder of Deeds for Ozark County, replacing Becki Strong who retired at the end of the year having served in the position for the last 28 years. Smith ran unopposed for the position during last fall’s election. As circuit clerk, Smith is responsible for assisting the associate and circuit judges in the execution of judicial duties by maintaining court records, collecting fees and fines, processing paperwork and other work. As recorder of deeds, she maintains public records and documents relating to real estate ownership. Smith, the daughter of the late Joe and Beverly Darnell, is a lifelong resident of Ozark County and has worked for the court system for more than 20 years, since July 2001. She lives in Dora with her husband Jay Smith. She has two grown children: Laken Berry and Hunter Jones. Together she and Jay have three grandsons. The Circuit Clerk and Recorder of Deeds offices are located on the main floor of the Ozark County Courthouse in Gainesville. To reach the office, call 417-679-4232.
Ozark County Collector Darla Sullivan
Darla Sullivan was sworn in to begin her second 4-year term as Ozark County collector. In March 2019, she replaced longtime collector Bill Hambelton. Sullivan served as deputy clerk in the office for 16 years prior to being elected as collector. Her primary function of the county collector is collecting personal and real estate taxes for various taxing entities of the county. She also collects merchant license fees. The collector is tasked collecting the taxes due and then distributing the funds to the various taxing entities. Sullivan is an Ozark county native, is the youngest of six children of Darlene Sullivan and the late Bob Sullivan. A 1981 graduate of Gainesville High School, she has five adult children and five grandchildren. The Ozark County Collector’s Office is located in the basement of the Ozark County Courthouse. To reach the office, call 417-679-4448.
Ozark County Treasurer Christy Thompson
Christy Thompson was sworn in to begin her first full 4-year term as Ozark County treasurer, a position in which she’s responsible for managing cash and investments, and receipting, recording and depositing revenue for all Ozark County services. She was appointed to the position by Gov. Mike Parson in December 2019 to fulfill the remaining four year term of Treasurer Phyllis Turner, who died Oct. 10, 2019. Thompson, an Ozark County native, is the oldest of the three daughters of Judy Hambelton and the late Gary Hambelton. A 1987 graduate of Gainesville High School, she has been married to her high school sweetheart, Shawn Thompson, for more than 30 years. They have one adult son, Austin. The Ozark County Treasurer’s office is located on the main floor of the Ozark County Courthouse in Gainesville. To reach the office, call 417-679-3553.
Ozark County Clerk Brian Wise
Ozark County Clerk Brian Wise was sworn in to begin his third 4-year term as Ozark County clerk. He has served in the position since 2015. Wise and wife Genette live in Gainesville. They have three children: Carter Wise, a Gainesville High School senior, and two adult children, Parker Wise and Daisy Woodbury. As county clerk, Wise is responsible for county elections, voter registration, county payroll and other duties. The Ozark County Clerk’s office is located on the main floor of the Ozark County Courthouse. To reach the office, call 417-679-3516.