A woman who has been a part of the Marshall County Sheriff's Office for 34 years has decided to retire her badge.
"I was the only civil deputy," said Karen Wacome, the lady in green, of the Marshall County Sheriff's Office.
Following a career as a hairdresser, then a real estate agent, Wacome started as a jailer in 1980 when the jail was located at 202 S. Second Ave.
T-R PHOTO BY STEPHANIE IVANKOVICH
Karen Wacome, the former civil deputy force of the Marshall County’s Sheriff’s Office and Ted Kamatchus, Marshall County sheriff, reflect on the last 34 years of Wacome’s career. Wacome worked with dozens of people on a daily basis. When she would go to Swift the employees would see her walking in and give her the nickname, ‘Lady in Green.’
"I could remember working and the doors slamming," Wacome said. "When the (jail) doors slammed, oh my goodness, it would make me jump. It took a while to get used to that, then you hear it and it was no big deal, it was just a noise."
After four years as a jailer, she began civil duty.
"There was a need for me," Wacome said. "I just kind of found my place, I loved it. I ended up in the position I'm doing now and I love it, I'm hooked."
As the civil deputy force of the Marshall County Sheriff's Office, Wacome interacted with dozens of people daily. She was a direct messenger for the court. Her job was to serve papers to people that were being sued, take property away from people and everything in between.
"Karen has mastered the ability to handle the civil processing side," said Ted Kamatchus, Marshall County Sheriff. "Quite frankly that's really stressful. When she came knocking on your door, it was not good."
One of her hardest days on the job was when she was serving civil process at the time farmers were losing their farms. Kamatchus said she handled it well.
"I had a farmer cry that I was taking the family farm, he got me to cry," Wacome said. "I didn't realize it at the time, but it could happen to any of us. This man is losing everything, who's fault is it? I don't know, but he had me in tears. He hugged me and said, 'OK.'"
She also has memories that made her chuckle.
"One guy ran at me with shackles, now that's funny," Wacome said. "How far are you going to run with shackles? I'll never forget him because of something as silly as that. You have to kind of chuckle."
With her job she met people from all classes and nationalities.
"I love people," Wacome said. "I don't care who you are."
Her biggest challenge however, was not to judge.
"Maybe in the back of my head once in a while I said, 'OK, I've seen you six times, what's your problem?'" Wacome said. "I can't say that to them, because we all have problems."
The position made her grateful for what she has.
"It made me grateful for what I have and not to be so I want, I want, I want," Wacome said. "If I had a bad day with my kids growing up, I'd go out and somebody else was struggling with their kids and I realized I wasn't alone. It made me grateful."
One of the biggest things she learned on the job, she said, is that working in law enforcement is far from just eating donuts and drinking coffee.
"I just thought they stood around and did nothing. I got into it and there's days we do nothing, but most days we do something," Wacome said. "These guys are out here for 18 hours working on a case and the general public would never know."
Leaving is the hardest, Wacome says, but she said she wants to continue to help Marshall County.
"I'm thinking of running for board of supervisors," Wacome said. "It's not all put together yet. I have said probably for 20 years, 'Yeah I'd really like to do that some day.' I just want to continue being productive."
Kamatchus said he is excited for her.
"Her success has been based off of common sense," Kamatchus said. "I can't deny it, it will give her an opportunity to benefit Marshall County."
She said that position would be another learning experience for her.
"I think it will be interesting, and a learning experience, again," Wacome said. "I'm working with the people. I know so many people and enjoy them, even in the worst times."
With Wacome leaving, Kamatchus said he will be looking at reformatting the agency.
"With her moving we're losing a massive resource," Kamatchus said. "Probably the toughest thing is trying to reformat the agency so that we can deal with this loss of knowledge and expertise and still provide the same level of services that we have."
A public open house will be held to thank her for all of her services from 5-9 p.m., Feb. 22 at the Stadium Lounge.