In doing so, we realized again how efficient our own Newton County agencies are.
We had one question to ask, "How many death certificates were issued in your county for the year 2008?"
Our first call was to our own probate court, which is under the direction of Judge Henry Baker.
The folks there were polite and quick.
In less than four minutes we were told that there were 667 death certificates issued in Newton County in 2008.
Because of the efficiency of Judge Baker's staff, we expected our quest to be easy.
Wrong, here is an example of what we ran into.
We called a county located near the coast; after two calls we reached their health department and asked our question.
You would have thought that we had asked for the secretly code to all their bank accounts.
After four more transfers, and some unhappy sounding people, we were told we would have to call Atlanta to get that information.
We called Atlanta using the number they gave us, and it took three phone calls to reach a very nice lady named Grace (name changed to protect her kindness), who told us that her department did not deal with this information anymore. She then connected us to another department.
After four more transfers, we transferred back to - surprise - Grace. She said she was sorry and that the computer that keeps such records crashed six months ago and the person they brought in to repair it developed a major health problem.
She transferred us to another number; we were then told we had to go through the state's press department.
We did and were asked if we were on deadline. We said no, but we would like an answer as soon as possible.
The nice lady said OK and that she would get back with us. That was a week ago. We figure that if we kept waiting for an answer, then we would become part of the statistics for which we were asking.
We called the county down by the coast again.
Success, another nice lady took our call and gave us the number we wanted.
We learned that we truly are fortunate to have efficient agencies like Judge Baker's in our county. We are also grateful to Grace in the vital records division of the state capitol, who gave us a secret number that can be used to get through to any department we needed. The next time we have a few days to spend on the phone, we are looking forward to using it.