MOUNT VERNON — Can you really be sent to prison for stealing a hot dog? If there’s anyone in Knox County who can answer that question, it’s Mary Jo Hawkins. The recently retired Knox County Clerk of Courts will spill the beans at the next Brown Bag Chat, Wednesday, at noon at the Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County.
Before her retirement, Mary Jo Hawkins spent nearly a half century — 49 years, to be precise — serving her fellow Knox Countians in a variety of capacities in county government, capping it all off with a lengthy career as Clerk of Courts. Her long experience of the inner workings of the local court system has left her with a veritable mountain of stories about the court cases she has seen close-up, from the most darkly disturbing to the quirky and unusual.
In her half-century of public service, during which she became a Certified Court Manager, Hawkins has seen court reporters taking testimony in shorthand, using manual typewriters, dial phones and onion skin paper with carbon copies, all of which over the years gave way to the electronic devices and megabits of modern technology used in processing court cases today.
In her presentation at the Brown Bag Chat, Hawkins will tell some of the most interesting and memorable stories from her long career in the Knox County Common Pleas Court. Some of the stories will make you laugh, some will make you cry, but every one of them is a factual, true nugget of local history, showing everyday human beings at their best and at their worst.
Brown Bag Chats are presented at the main branch of the Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County, 201 N. Mulberry St., Mount Vernon, on Wednesdays at noon. The sessions are free and open to all. Attendees are invited to bring a sack lunch, if they wish, and light refreshments are also served. The sessions are held in the library’s large basement multipurpose room.