Jefferson County passport agent retires

After spending 13 years as a passport agent in the Jefferson County Recorder?s office, Jefferson County Deputy recorder Carol Miner retires Wednesday.

?I?m really excited to retire,? Miner said, adding that she had met a lot of different people over the years she worked as a passport agent.

Miner said she became a passport agent when she began working in the recorder?s office.

?I?ve been doing that since I started,? she said, adding that she simultaneously held the role of clerk for the office, and she was later promoted to the role of deputy recorder.

Miner remembered a time when she was the only passport agent between Wapello, Van Buren and Jefferson counties.

?I was the only one for around a year,? she said.

Miner began her tenure under former county recorder Charlotte Fleig.

Jefferson County Recorder Kelly Spees said Miner was a great asset to the recorder?s office, and she will be greatly missed.

?When I came into my office, Carol was a huge help after the recorder left. She was very helpful in training me with everything she knew from a deputy?s perspective,? Spees said. ?I appreciated that very much. We?re definitely going to miss her experience here. That?s a lot of years of knowledge to lose from your office. She was very good at what she did, and everyone always enjoyed her as a passport agent. At one point, she was the [Iowa Department of Natural Resources] contact for the office.?

Spees said after Miner retires, the passport office could be down for a couple of months.

?I?m going to try to have it back up within two months,? Spees said. ?We will hire a clerk and decide once that person has been working for a while if they can handle the responsibilities of being a passport agent.?

Spees said the passport agent certification process is not as easy as one might assume.

?Since 9-11, the rules changed and everything tightened up,? Spees said, adding that only one person in the office would be able to perform the duties of a passport agent.

?When I started, other people could do passports,? Miner said. ?We used to stand at the counter and do them, but since 9-11 things have changed, and someone doing vital statistics wouldn?t do passports.?

Now the passport office is located in the courthouse basement.

Passport agents study a manual to prepare for and take a required exam. Agents are also required to certify yearly.

?Someone would have to know what they are doing, because you?re working with everything from old passports, naturalization papers and birth certificates. They also have to pass a test, and from what I understand it?s not that easy,? Spees said.

Training is conducted by the U.S. State Department.

Trainers travel to meet with agents in various locations around the state.

Some required coursework could be taken online.

?I?ve been to Des Moines, Iowa City, Marengo and Cedar Rapids for training,? Miner said. ?They pick different locations to do it in.?

Residents in Jefferson County seeking passports after Wednesday would have several options, such as traveling to Wapello and Washington county recorder?s offices and post offices in Wapello, Washington and Van Buren counties.

Spees said most of the offices operate by appointment only, and the post offices only conduct passport services during certain hours and by appointment only.

?We will have the information posted on the door,? Spees said, adding that residents are welcome to call the recorder?s office at 472-4331 for further assistance.

For now, Miner is looking forward to a relaxing retirement.

?I?m planning to relax and enjoy life and spend time with my family ? my grandkids,? she said.

?She?s very good at passports, she knew her job very well,? Spees said ?We just want to extend her every happiness in her retirement.?

The recorders office is conducting an open house for Miner at the courthouse from 2-4 p.m. Wednesday.