GREEN COVE SPRINGS – Tax Collector Jimmy Weeks will see his decades-long tenure with the county come to a close later this year and he wouldn’t have done it any other way.
Weeks has lived in Clay County all his life. It’s his home. After a company- wide layoff at a mining business he worked for back in the 1970s, Weeks felt the call of the government. It wasn’t the call of the public office he holds now – that would come more than a decade later – but it was a call to serve the area he’s called home all his life.
“During that layoff period, I decided that maybe I would take a chance to go work for the government,” Weeks said. “I had been doing a lot of engineering work for this mining company, so I applied for a job with the county for an assistant engineering position.”
Weeks was hired in 1978 and he performed pavement inspections, worked on county-wide drainage projects and held subdivision reviews. He was apparently really good at his job because around 1984 when the county’s public works director left the position, the Board of County Commissioners asked Weeks to hold the position as an interim director for six months.
The county used those six months to find the best candidate for its next public works director. They selected Weeks.
“I managed over 100 employees in that position and it was scary for me because I had never managed more than a handful,” Weeks said. “I was waiting for [the BCC] to call me up after that six months to let me know that I could go back to my old job. They decided that I should stay in the position.”
Weeks would stay in that position for 12 years. He did much more than a public works director. He helped with stints in human resources, resource directories, the development department and civic organization relations.
“I met many people around the county,” Weeks said. “After 12 years, I still loved what I was doing but I was ready for something different.”
The county’s tax collector retired in 1996 and Weeks decided to run for the position.
“I was going on the premise that I had not only lived here all of my life, but felt like during my 18 years working for the county, I had a jump start on what public office would require. It seemed to fit in perfectly with what I had already done in my career.”
The people agreed because he was elected to the position. The next five terms of his career, he would run once more for tax collector, unopposed each time. He calls that a blessing. A blessing to continue a job he calls truly wonderful and a blessing to have that kind of support from the people in Clay County.
He manages the operation of people, of money flowing in and out, vehicles, concealed weapon permits and of course, taxes. When he first began in the position, there was the office in Green Cove Springs and a smaller office on Blanding Boulevard at Bear Run. He soon after opened up a new office on Park Avenue in what he considers to be an Orange Park hub. He also opened an office in Keystone Heights so the people there would no longer need to rely on the mobile unit.
“So much changed as the years went by,” Weeks said. “All of it basically stems to the change in population. It grew so we had to grow in employees and services to meet that. We focused on making sure people didn’t have to sit here for two hours.
“The one thing I did preach to my people here that I hired through the years is to make sure our services are friendly. We should always be cordial to people and swift at our jobs. I always wanted to make sure we were professional. I think we’ve been able to do that and I think people have recognized that.”
Weeks will see his time working for the county come to a close this year after more than 40 years. And he’s ready to begin a new chapter in his life. He has many hobbies, lots of charity in his heart still, some traveling plans and plenty of grandchildren to keep him busy. I don’t see myself getting bored, he said.
As he prepares his goodbyes in the coming months, he continues to believe Clay County to be the best place to live.
“I’ve seen a lot of change coming but I know the integrity of who we are in Clay County,” Weeks said. “I hope the people will not let us get too large so that we don’t forget the quality of life here. I’ll be on the outside looking in and hopefully myself and others will continue to give input to the government leaders of Clay County – that input is what’s helped me all these years.
“This new chapter in my life will be different for me but it’s time. I’ve been blessed. If I look back, I see a God-ordained path and I know I couldn’t have done it any better myself.”