Augusta County Circuit Court Clerk Issues Third Annual Report

     STAUNTON – Augusta County Clerk of Circuit Court R. Steven Landes today issued the third annual Circuit Court Clerk’s Report for activities accomplished by the Augusta County Circuit Court Clerk’s Office in 2022. In addition, to sharing this report with the public, the report will be provided to members of the Augusta County Board of Supervisors, Augusta County representatives in the Virginia General Assembly, and Circuit Court Judges conducting Court in Augusta County.     

     “It is a great pleasure to officially issue our third annual Circuit Court Clerk’s Report for 2022 to the citizens of Augusta County,” Landes said. “None of what has been achieved this past year would have been possible without the tireless efforts of the staff of the Clerk’s Office, and I want to thank all our dedicated and hardworking staff members who have accomplished so much for our citizens.”

     The report highlights the activities and accomplishments for the Circuit Court Clerk’s Office, including recent technology updates to better serve Augusta County’s citizens, which include new plastic Concealed Handgun Permit cards. In addition, the report highlights the continuing work to conserve and preserve Augusta County’s significant historic records and the partnership with the James Madison University Department of History and JMU Libraries – Histories Along the Blue Ridge.

     The Augusta County Circuit Court Clerk’s Office is in downtown Staunton at the Augusta County Courthouse. The Clerk serves as the recorder of deeds and probate judge, issues marriage licenses and is the official court administrator for all civil and criminal cases. The Clerk creates and maintains all court files and records, prepares court orders and jury lists, contacts jurors and issues summons and court processes. More information about the services of the Augusta County Circuit Court Clerk’s Office can be found online at

Augusta County

Circuit Court Clerk’s

Report for 2022


 R. Steven Landes, Clerk

Augusta County Circuit Court Clerk’s Report

For Calendar Year 2022

     On November 18, 2019, it was my honor to be sworn in as the 17th Clerk of Circuit Court for Augusta County, and I am now entering my third calendar year as Clerk. Each year I will continue to report on the activities of this Office to the Augusta County Board of Supervisors and the Citizens of Augusta County. During the campaign I set out several goals in three main categories: Innovating and Working for All, Preserving and Promoting History, and Seeking Input and Advice. I am happy to report that once again this year much progress has been made in each category.

     This report will again detail the progress that was made related to the three main goals outlined above. In the area of Innovating and Working for All, a great number of technological and office advances were accomplished in 2022. These advances directly benefit our citizens – the customers we serve.  

     In January a Logan Systems Technician installed new computers, printers, and scanners for our Information Desk area. In March a Comcast Technician installed new internet modem for the Supreme Court of Virginia (SCV) office and court systems. Also, in March a Logan Systems Technician moved computers, printers, and scanners when several cubicles were moved by the Augusta County Facility Maintenance staff.

     In April a Logan Systems Technician installed, replaced, and checked several computers for our land record public stations and kiosks. In addition, an Advanced Telephone & Data Technician updated several telephone extensions for staff changes. In May a Logan Systems Technician and Comcast Technician installed and replaced our internet modem for land record and public systems. In addition, we also began the process of working with our vendor, StarPoint Global, and SCV Records Management staff on an extensive back scanning project for Criminal and Civil Case files from the 1990s and 2000s.

     In July a Shenandoah Valley Office Equipment (SVOE) Technician cleaned and repaired our two office facsimile machines, and then later replaced one facsimile machine for the Criminal Division that could no longer be serviced. In August H&R Contractors shred old documents and records that met the criteria and period to be destroyed. In September a SCV Field Services Technician installed and replaced the office and court system network switch. In addition, a SCV Field Services Technician installed and updated one staff computer, two scanners and two printers to replace old equipment.

     Also in September, a SCV Field Service Technician replaced and installed a new office and court system server. In addition, StarPoint Global staff picked up over 380 file boxes of the Criminal and Civil Case files to begin our extensive back scanning project. The files are being scanned and reviewed by Deputy Clerks in the Criminal and Civil Divisions for accuracy. In October a SCV Field Services WAN Technician replaced an office and court network router.

     In November, after much research on the cost and use of plastic card printers for Concealed Handgun Permit (CHP) cards issued by other Clerk’s offices we purchased, installed, and began printing our Augusta County Circuit Court CHP cards on an AlphaCard printer. AlphaCard Technical and Rockingham County Circuit Court Clerk’s Office staff worked with our staff to implement this change for our citizens.  We have received excellent feedback regarding this upgrade and change. In December SVOE Technicians replaced two Xerox copiers for the Accounting and Civil Divisions.

     The Circuit Court Clerk Webpage was reviewed and updated as necessary with new information. Mia Kivlighan, Augusta County Communications Manager, continues to assist with the Circuit Court Clerk Webpage updates. We also continued to update information on the Virginia Court System Website for the Augusta County Circuit Court as needed.

     In the area of Preserving and Promoting History we accomplished much in 2022. We continue to work with partners from the Augusta County Historical Society and Augusta County Genealogical Society in preserving and promoting Augusta County’s history. We continue to work with the Library of Virginia (LVA) Historic Records Staff, and with C.W. Warthen Kofile Technologies representative, Greg Brooks, to conserve and preserve Augusta County’s Historic Records. Our digital online historic record archive portal for Augusta County’s historic records continued to be updated and improved during 2022 making it easier for the public and researchers to access these records. 

     In October we entered a partnership with the Histories Along the Blue Ridge project with the James Madison University Department of History and JMU Libraries. The Rockingham County, Madison County, and Rappahannock County Circuit Court Clerks also participate in this project and website that makes selected historic records digitally available to the public. In November because of this partnership the 1749 Land Grant for Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania from Deed Book 22 was digitized, transcribed, and made available online. In November we also had Matt Luther, a JMU History Graduate Student, begin work to help preserve and conserve our historic records as part of our new partnership. 

     We continue to recruit and enlist the help of Historic Records Volunteers to assist with the conservation and preservation of Augusta County’s historic records. Our Historic Records Assistant trained and supervised the work of the Historic Records Volunteers. Nine volunteers contributed approximately 1,000 hours during 2022. The Historic Records Volunteers continue to flatten and digitize historic documents that are then uploaded to the online archive portal. The volunteers are also compiling, identifying, and completing an inventory of all of Augusta County’s historic records and documents under the stewardship of the Augusta County Circuit Court Clerk’s Office.

     A $48,682 LVA Circuit Court Records Preservation (CCRP) grant was awarded for eight important historic documents, including: Deed Book 6 (1745-1747), Order Book 17 (1779-1782), Register of Deaths (1871-1893), Will Book 16 (1827-1829), Will Book 19 (1833-1835), Will Book 21 (1835-1837), and Will Book 22 (1837-1839).  These historic documents were received in August, and these restored documents were as result of conservation work completed due to the CCRP grant. Two CCRP grant applications were submitted in November. One for $37,952 for conservation work and archival boxes for Judgements from 1752-1756, and a second for $47,687 to restore seven Deed Books from 1761 to 1872, and one Will Book from 1778. During my term as Clerk of Circuit Court we have received a total of $74,849 in grant funding, and the Augusta County Court House Historic Records Fund ended the year with a balance of $1,868 for 2022.

     To promote a better understanding of the Augusta County Circuit Court Clerk’s Office the Clerk’s Internship Program continued once again this year. We have now had 14 students participate in our program through the end of 2022. The six Clerk’s Interns for 2022 were Dagon Wheeler, Fort Defiance High School; Patrick Graves, James Madison University; Aaron Baughman, James Madison University; Blake Rodgers, Wilson Memorial High School; Nicholas Arnold, Bridgewater College, and India Manning, Bridgewater College.

     For the goal of Seeking Input and Advice our office continues to make great progress. The Augusta County Circuit Court Clerk’s Advisory Committee was formed in 2020 and continued to meet this year. The Advisory Committee met in January, June, and November. Membership on the Advisory Committee continues to include representation from the Augusta County Bar Association, Greater Augusta Regional Chamber of Commerce, Augusta County Historical Society, Augusta County Genealogical Society, Staunton-Augusta County African American Research Society, Frontier Culture Museum of Virginia, the Augusta County Board of Supervisors, the Augusta County School Board, and at-large Augusta County Citizens.

     Over the past year I attended 11 meetings with my fellow Clerks of Circuit Court for the Virginia Court Clerk’s Association (VCCA), including the 112th Annual Convention in Williamsburg in August. Once again in 2022 I was selected to serve as Co-Chairman of the VCCA Legislative Committee, and as a Member of the Public Relations Committee. In addition, I also attended six meetings and events of the Greater Augusta Regional Chamber of Commerce (GARCC), including the Business Excellence Award Dinner, and served as the Moderator of the GARCC Legislative Breakfast in December for the second year. As a member of the Board of the Trustees for the Frontier Culture Museum of Virginia, and the State Historical Records Advisory Board, I attended a meeting for each in September and December.

     During the year we also had visits and meetings with Office of the Attorney General Community Coordinator Matt Hall, U.S. Congressman Ben Cline, Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares, Augusta County Administrator Timothy Fitzgerald, Augusta County Commissioner of the Revenue Jean Shrewsbury, Delegate John Avoli, Augusta County Commonwealth’s Attorney Tim Martin, Staunton Public Defender Peter Boatner, Staunton Deputy Public Defender Duane Barron, Rockingham County Circuit Court Clerk Chaz Haywood, Richmond City Circuit Court Clerk Ed Jewett, Staunton City Circuit Court Clerk Staci Falls, Waynesboro City Circuit Court Clerk Nicole Briggs, and Delegate Chris Runion. I also had the opportunity to make a presentation to the Augusta County Board of Supervisors at a Staff Briefing, an Augusta County School Board Meeting, and Craigsville Town Council Meeting on our activities for the past year.

     The Clerk’s Office updated and utilized our “Augusta County Circuit Court History & Operations” Power Point that was presented to six civic clubs and organizations. The groups included the Beverley Manor Chapter of Daughters of the American Revolution, the Liberty Hall Chapter of Colonial Dames, Pleasant View Ruritan Club, Stuarts Draft Ruritan Club, Verona Ruritan Club, and Mint Spring Ruritan Club. In addition, I also attended 10 various community events and meetings for which we were invited.  

     During two weeks in March Senior Auditor Lindsay Tatum with the Auditor of Public Accounts conducted an audit of the Augusta County Circuit Court Clerk’s Office for the period of July 1, 2020, through December 31, 2021. In early April we received a report that the office had “no material deficiencies in our court’s operation,” and the office was given a clean audit report. This is the second clean audit report our office has received since becoming Circuit Court Clerk in November of 2019.

     Above and beyond meeting and working on the goals I set as Clerk, both the Clerk’s staff and I have continued to work to sharpen our skills and learn more about how our office can be more effective and efficient. To accomplish this full-time staff are members of the VCCA. Rachel Morgan, Deputy Clerk in the Criminal Division, and Sandy Harris, Deputy Clerk in the Land Record Division, achieved the Master Deputy Clerk Certification this year bringing our total to eight Deputy Clerks who have achieved that status and currently serve on staff. One Deputy Clerk is currently enrolled to become a Master Deputy Clerk and will achieve that designation in 2023. All our remaining Deputy Clerks continue to take ongoing webinars and training. This year I completed and participated in eight Meetings, Webinars and WebEx meetings for training, and each staff member completed that many and more.

     Fourteen staff evaluation meetings were conducted in February to review each staff members work progress for the year, and to review and set annual goals. In addition, our office had four quarterly Clerk’s Staff Meetings. I presented a framed certificate, and we recognized Civil Division Deputy Clerk Jean Doyle for 25 years of service to Augusta County’s citizens. We also continued to recognize staff suggestions and ideas that help improve the work we do with the Clerk’s Light Bulb Award. Five Clerk’s Light Bulb Award Certificates were presented in 2022, in the coming year we will be awarding these quarterly. The Clerk’s staff also raised and donated $905 to charities in 2022. Each staff member who participated donated each week so they could then dress casually each Friday. We had four quarterly Clerk’s Staff Meetings in 2022.

     The Clerk’s Office also filled two vacant full-time positions and one part-time position. The position of Deputy Clerk in our Criminal Division was advertised, candidates were interviewed, and Amber Peterson was hired for the position. The position of Deputy Clerk in our Court Division was advertised, candidates were interviewed, and Courtney Little was hired for the position. The part-time position of Historic Records Assistant was advertised, candidates were interviewed, and Whitney Rhodes was hired and will start in January of 2023. Faith Duncan, Augusta County Director of Human Resources, was again extremely helpful during the entire process.

     To continue to communicate the work of the Circuit Court Clerk’s Office we issued 19 press releases on various topics and issues of interest to the citizens of Augusta County. These also continue to be posted on social media, and on my personal website for review as well. We conducted six media interviews in 2022. In addition, I have sent out 12 editions of The Landes Letter Newsletters via email, and social media about the Clerk’s Office activities. Because of the Augusta County Courthouse Referendum on November 8, I also attended and participated in 12 meetings related to providing input and information regarding the options to build in Staunton or Verona.  

     During 2022 I administered 67 Oaths, including individuals such as 25th District Magistrates, Gubernatorial Appointees, Augusta County Sheriff’s Deputies, Middle River Regional Jail Jailers, Probation and Parole Officers, Augusta County Fire-Rescue Fire Fighters, and appointed and elected local officials such as recently elected and re-elected members of the Augusta County School Board, and Craigsville Town Council. This year I also conducted and participated in six Grand Juries, one Special Grand Jury, 15 Advisements, and one Jury Commissioner meeting.

     Our Office continues to work with the Augusta County Facility Maintenance staff to better utilized our Courthouse space and continued to make repairs and maintenance of the building a priority. Much work was completed on the Courthouse lawn and areas on the outside of the Courthouse, including the removal of two trees. The County Maintenance staff has also continued to produced staff signage as needed to better assist the public in identifying Clerk’s Office personnel and they completed an extensive painting project in the men’s and women’s restrooms in the basement. The County Maintenance Staff assisted in moving and relocating old Deed and Will Books from the Record Room to the General District Court Building Clerk’s Office Annex Storage area. Rusty Sprouse, Augusta County Director of Facility Maintenance, and his staff continue to be a great help in accomplishing necessary work at the Courthouse.

     It is my hope you have found this third Augusta County Circuit Court Clerk’s Report for 2022 of interest, and helpful. If you have any questions regarding this information, or the duties and responsibilities of the Circuit Court Clerk, please feel free to contact me at the Augusta County Courthouse at 540-245-5321, Ext. 100 or email me at [email protected]. Thank you for your interest in and support of the Augusta County Circuit Court Clerk’s Office.

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  • Steve Landes
    published this page in Press Releases 2023-01-04 11:26:22 -0500
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