Want to speak with the person running the Newton County Judicial Center? Then look no further than mail clerk Jim Dial who, according to County Clerk Linda Hays, runs the whole building.
If Friday's reception was any indication then it certainly seemed so. In celebration of Dial's 46th birthday as well as his 10-year anniversary with the judicial center, there was a surprise party thrown for him, complete with food, cake and lots of presents.
Dial is responsible for delivering mail to all the departments in the center and according to Hays is very organized with folders that numerically match the office numbers. If the mail happens to run late one day Dial isn't happy.
"He's only here a few hours every day," said Hays. "And he gets very upset if the mail hasn't made it here by the time he goes home."
Although Dial is quite independent - he made his mother and cousin sit by themselves at his party - every person in the center looks out for him, from the deputies at the front door to the superior court judges.
"Jim just came in and stole everyone's heart," said Hays. "We look out for him - from the bottom of the building to the top. And I think that having him here has given us all an insight into Downs Syndrome. We have all learned how intelligent he is and what a sense of humor he has. He has a heart bigger than the whole state and he takes him job very seriously."
A huge University of Georgia fan, Dial's mail cart has two UGA license plates on the front. He even has a favorite cheerleader - Dana Luker. Well aware of this, several of Dial's friends - Judge Samuel Ozburn, Pete Carter, Greg Rawlins and Matt Crowe - had plans to "kidnap" him Saturday morning and take him, in a limousine, to Athens for lunch at The Varsity and a tour of the UGA campus and athletic department.
"He's probably hoping the cheerleaders will be there," laughed Hays.
"Jim is just such a happy person," she said, looking over at him as he began opening his gifts. "And he really makes us all slow down and appreciate each other just a little bit more. Everybody has a purpose in life and I think Jim has found his here with us."