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Wallace steps down as register of deeds

Originally published: Nov. 29, 2012
Last modified: Nov. 29, 2012

Jesse Campbell

As Shirley Wallace prepares to step down from her position as register of deeds in Ashe County, she said she leaves with a feeling of accomplishment and ease, knowing she is turning the office over to a knowledgeable and capable staff. 

Deaett Roten, who has served as the office's deputy for the past 20 years, will complete the remaining two years of Wallace's term before running for office in the next election. 

“Deaett (Roten) is very qualified and a real good worker,” said Wallace. “She knows the office from top to bottom. She knows the complete operation of the office and is very capable of running it.”

Roten's starting salary in her new position is $58,020 while Wallace's salary at retirement is listed at $70,692.

Wallace is an Ashe County native and graduate of Ashe Central High School. She has served the county office since 1969 when came aboard as an assistant and later ascended to her current role as register of deeds when Kyle Baldwin stepped down in the 1977. 

Wallace won her right to remain in office in 1978 and has won every subsequent election by a considerable margin. 

“I appreciate everyone's support over the years,” said Wallace. “I didn't have a lot of opposition until the last two or three terms. I have really enjoyed working with the people of Ashe County.”

After 44 years of service, Wallace said her decision to step down came as a result of timing.

“I just feel like it is time to leave,” said Wallace. “My husband passed away a couple of years ago and I needed more time to spend with my son.”

In her time of service, Wallace said she has always strived to “treat everyone fairly.

“I have a good staff working for me and they will continue to run the office just as it was,” said Wallace.

Roten, who will officially be sworn in next week, said she feels Wallace has “done a good job training her and will continue to run the office the way Wallace has” for the past 35 years. 

“I am excited,” said Roten on her new position. “Shirley (Wallace) said she would help me and is going to come back some to work with me and showing me things that I need to be responsible for.”

The register of deeds office is the county's primary archive for real estate documents, deeds of trust, death and marriage certificates, birth records, and military discharge paperwork. 

In the late 1990s, Wallace said the office began the process of formatting records for online queries and searches. 

Currently, the archived documents that are accessible online go back to 1935 and one day will hopefully extend back to county's origin in 1799, said Wallace. 

“This gives lawyers, searches, and surveyors the ability to do searches from home,” said Wallace. “We don't have the traffic we use to have.”

The system is one that Wallace and the entire staff take great pride in.

Statewide, the online system is one of the first to have accessibility to both index and document searches.

“It is one of the best in the state,” said Wallace. 

County Manager Pat Mitchell has took note of the advancements Wallace has overseen during her tenure.

“I think anyone who has dedicated 44 years of their life to public service needs to be commended,” said Mitchell. “She has served the county very well and has established a number of enhancements.”

For more information and stories, see Ashe Mountain Times.