For the first time since 1994, York County voters will choose a new probate judge when they go to the polls this fall.
Judge John P. Gettys Sr. has announced his retirement from the court, which administers wills and estates of deceased people, involuntary commitments and, on a happier note, marriage licenses.
Gettys, who turns 67 in September, said the timing feels right.
"I'm old and ready," he said. "I've been here 16 years, and I think that's long enough."
The lone declared candidate for the full-time office is local attorney Carolyn Rogers. Filing runs through March 30.
"Judge Gettys has left us with a great, organized court," Rogers said. "I'd really like to see a continuation of the level of service he's provided."
Rogers, 62, filed as a Republican, though she views the office as nonpartisan. A 24-year resident of Rock Hill, Rogers chairs the York County Zoning Board of Appeals and is past president of the Rotary Club.
Areas of practice for Rogers include estate planning, probate administration and litigation and commercial and residential real estate. She's active in the Bar Association and the Ask-A-Lawyer telephone aid hotline.
The next judge will inherit a court that has moved into the digital age.
During his 16-year tenure, Gettys worked with a seven-person staff to computerize thousands of paper documents. The court stays busy as people walk in during business hours for help with probate-related paperwork.
Housed in an old Belk department store in downtown York, probate court handles 1,200 estates per year, as well as 500 hearings involving estates, guardian and conservatorships and mental or chemical dependency matters.
Probate judges serve four-year terms and make $95,000 per year, a figure based on the county's population.