The Town Clerk’s Office serves as the Town of Wareham’s keeper of all vital records and the town seal. The clerk’s office maintains custody of all vital documents and is responsible for issuance of same. We play a major role in assuring that all vital records housed in the Clerk’s Office reflect accurate information. The Town Clerk’s Office makes every effort to protect and preserve these records in an effort to avail the Wareham residents, as well as the public-at-large, access to their present and past personal information.
As Keeper of the Town Seal, it is the responsibility of the Town Clerk to keep safe, maintain and/or repair the Seal. Last year it became necessary to repair the old Seal, and have it placed in a new cast iron base. At that time a new electric Seal was purchased due to the volume of documents we authenticate. The Seal is a respected and time-honored symbol that has been in existence since the Town of Wareham’s incorporation in 1739.
Keeping of vital records is only one part of the Town Clerk’s responsibilities. The Clerk’s Office houses records pertaining to elections, town meeting, Registrars of Voters, Voters information, town census, federal census, population information, animal control, campaign finance, street list, town bylaws, town reports, Massachusetts Acts and Resolves, Massachusetts Appeals Court decisions, Board of Appeals decisions, Planning Board approvals/non-approvals, business certificates, fuel storage, road layouts and descriptions, town accepted streets, (to name a few).
In this day and age, the importance of restoring old buildings and old records seems to be a favored and important past time. Here in the Town Clerks Office it has become a fight against time and for money to ultimately preserve the history of the Town of Wareham. The Town Clerks Office has taken many necessary steps to make this a reality rather than a dream. We have purchased books and pocket inserts made of acid free plastic for our current vital records. We have had several books bound and also purchased a fireproof file cabinet to preserve town meeting records. We have in the past and will do so in the future, transfer old records and books over to the library, as needed, which is adequately furnished with a sprinkler system, modern climate control and storage space.
The Town Clerk’s Office takes pride in conducting honest and fair town, federal and state elections. In this accounting, we strive to ensure access and impartial assistance to all voters in the Town of Wareham. We hold mandatory voter registration sessions in order to assist residents who want to vote. In order to accomplish this task, we must always stay abreast and knowledgeable regarding ever-changing laws and procedures regarding the election process. We continue to offer in depth training to our 60 or so election workers and staff to ensure comprehensive knowledge and compliance of the state and federal election laws.
Other responsibilities include conducting a yearly census. This process is state mandated and serves to assist the town regarding funding and financial assistance.
We make every effort to conduct a thorough and valid count of the residents in the Town of Wareham. During the process of conducting a yearly, accurate and complete census, we keep in mind that this fundamental information makes its way to our federal and state governments and helps our town to receive much needed financial relieve.
The Town Clerk’s Office is responsible for supplying continuing support in the arrangement and posture of town meeting. It is the sole responsibility of the Town Clerk to provide, at the close of town meeting, a complete and accurate accounting and representation of the proceedings and votes taken at town meeting. This would also involve sending all amendments voted and approved at town meeting regarding the general by-laws and zoning by-laws to the Attorney General for state approval.
The Town Clerk’s responsibility also encompasses overseeing and managing a comprehensive, town-run canine program. Ties with Plymouth County were severed in 1999 and full responsibility for licensing of all dogs in Wareham was then assumed by the Town Clerk’s Office. With the assistance of Town Counsel, the Town Clerk and Animal Control Officer, at that time, authored the new rules and regulations for animal control, which is reflected in the town bylaws. The Town Clerk’s Office is instrumental in notifying owners through a yearly postcard mailing to dog owners, which serves as a reminder to come in and license their dogs in January of each year.
Ultimately, the Town Clerks Office probably has more frequent contact with the public than any other town office. We are constantly called upon to provide information, not only about the Clerk’s Office, but about the rest of town government, as well. We endeavor to work positively and cohesively with all branches of Town Government. Perhaps more than any public office, the Town Clerks Office symbolizes the stability and continuity of local (Town) government.