Right time to retire: Coordinator at courthouse moves on

 By Jo Mathis

Legal News
For the past 12 years, Rene Bergeron has been the first person many people saw once they got through the metal detectors at the Jackson County Courthouse.
And that’s why Bergeron, the small claims case work coordinator for the civil division of the 12th District Court until her recent retirement, spent a good deal of time answering questions that began, “Where do I go to talk to someone about …” or “How do I get to …” and “Can you help me …”
For many of us, that would get old pretty fast.
Bergeron took such questions in stride.
“I look at it like this: If I didn’t work in here, I wouldn’t know it, either,” said Bergeron on one of her last days of work. “It can be confusing. There’s a lot of paperwork involved in civil. With traffic, you pay it and you’re done. Not civil.”
Though she looks far too young to have earned the title “retired,” Bergeron did just that at the end of the year. It helped that she took the option to “buy” four years of employment to yield a grand total of 25.
When Bergeron started at the courthouse as a deputy clerk, she worked in traffic for a couple of years before she was transferred to probation/criminal/civil.
Her final and longest-standing job was running the small claims window, where she managed the magistrate’s docket from beginning to end, ordered supplies, answered questions, and filled in as a court reporter when needed.
Everybody says she’s too young to retire. She is only 46.
“I graduated (high school), and I started here, and worked my years of service,” she said. “I debated it, but my husband (Randy, a project manager) travels and is gone a lot of the time, so it’ll make it easier if I’m retired.”
Too, the youngest of her three children will graduate from high school in May, so Bergeron decided the time had come.  She also wanted to leave while her retirement benefits were in tact.
The Pleasant Lake resident loves to walk and work out, and looks forward to hitting the gym during the daytime instead of after work, when it’s more crowded.
One of the current employees, deputy court clerk Eva Paluck, has taken Bergeron’s place.
“I’m excited and nervous, but I think it’s going to be great,” said Paluck. “It’s a lot to learn, and big shoes to fill. And the whole department will miss Rene because she’s on top of small claims, and has been there anytime we needed assistance or advice.”
Yolanda Kakowski, who has been a close friend of Bergeron’s for the 16 years they’ve worked together, said she’d been crying off and on for days just thinking about the office without her.
“It feels like I’m losing a husband!” Kakowski said, adding the Bergeron had in fact served her with phony divorce papers.
“I’m going to miss everybody,” said Bergeron. “But I think the time is right.”

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