Houston & Peach

Houston commissioners concerned with voice mail complaints

Houston County commissioners are threatening to remove voice mail from all county phones if employees don’t get better about clearing out their messages.

Commission Chairman Tommy Stalnaker brought up the issue at the end of the last regular board meeting. He said he has been getting too many complaints that people are calling county offices and getting voice mail but are not able to leave a message because the mailbox is full. Stalnaker said he plans to take action if the problem doesn’t get better.

He said the board can’t force employees to fix the problem in offices headed by elected officials, but it can control the phone system.

“In my opinion if it does not improve, with people clearing their voice messages and returning people’s phone calls, the board of commissioners should consider totally doing away with voice messages on all county phones,” Stalnaker said.

He didn’t mention any department by name as a culprit during the meeting. When asked afterward, he said the State Court Clerk’s office was a source of many of the complaints but added it is not the only office with the problem.

State Court Clerk Kendra Simons could not be reached for comment. Calls to the office’s main number were greeted with an automated message that offered options for criminal or civil court. Both options led to a ring that was never answered except by a repeating message and more ringing.

Her cellphone message said her voice mailbox was full. The Telegraph made a personal visit to the office Wednesday, and staff members said Simons was out. They declined to discuss the issue except to say that their individual voice mailboxes were not full.

Stalnaker said by removing the voice mail system, departments would have no choice but to answer the phone.

Other commissioners voiced support for taking action if the problem doesn’t improve.

“I can’t think of a more frustrating thing than to call somebody up, and it goes to voice mail and the voice mail is full,” said Commissioner Larry Thomson. “That just shows you are not paying attention to what you are doing anyway.”

Stalnaker said he may discuss the issue again at Tuesday’s board meeting but is still trying to talk to department heads about it, as well as collect data on the county phones that have full voice mails.

To contact writer Wayne Crenshaw, call 256-9725.