As the Northwest District Court Administrator, Carolyn Woolf is in charge of all personnel and administrative functions of the court. Although she works alongside William McLees, the district's presiding judge, she doesn't work for him, as she answers to a state administrator instead.
"I'm kind of a liaison between the judges and all the agencies," Woolf said.
Woolf came to Minot from Washington for a couple of reasons, she said.
Dave Caldwell/MDN •
Carolyn Woolf takes a break from her work Friday morning in her office at the Ward County Courthouse in downtown Minot. Woolf, the administrator for Northwest District Court, has had a busy 18 months on the job.
After having grown up "a lot in Michigan" and living in South Dakota, Woolf is familiar with the lifestyle.
"A combination of the job - which is a great opportunity - but I also wanted to come back to the Midwest," she said. "I like the work ethic, the people, the support. The education is great. I have a 10-year-old, so I wanted that kind of supportive environment, and it's proven to be exactly that."
Woolf spent more than five years working for Spokane County District Court in Washington, but even with prior court experience, getting used to her new job required some adjustment.
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"You'd be surprised how different every state - let alone every unit - is different," she said. "They all have their own uniqueness."
As for Ward County and North Dakota, she couldn't speak more highly.
"I really enjoy it," Woolf said. "Ward County has been great. The people have been great. The work ethic, I love. People come in and they work hard. They're very pleasant, supportive, respectful."
Woolf said one of her favorite things about Ward County is the passion people show for things like county commission meetings, more than a few of which she has attended, especially during the security flap this past year. A good portion of that controversy blew up just as she was getting adjusted to her new position. She says she took it in stride, complimenting the security personnel and expressing disappointment at some of the negativity surrounding the issues at that time.
"People get very passionate," she chuckled. "But there's a lot of involvement. People speak up."
Woolf said that she is also working on becoming more involved with groups in the community, like Rotary.
As administrator for the entire district, Woolf oversees the courts in all six counties.
"I'll be honest, there haven't been many problems, but most of them are simply lack of communication," she said. "I invite people to come ask. I can't cover anything. It's a learning experience."
"But I think it's coming along really well. Again, there are good people in place."
Woolf said she plans to stay in her position for some time.
"The judges are really just great to work with," she said. "Because I have come from a very dysfunctional court, and this in not anything like that.
"In that position, there can be a great deal of arrogance, and they have that right or that ability," Woolf said. "And these judges are just not like that - which I find refreshing.
"There's something to be said for that. If you haven't been outside of here, and you don't know what these other places are like well, I have been.
"And I speak so highly because I appreciate it and I have good reason to."