By Jennifer Phonexayphova
Killeen Daily Herald
She may be new to the role of Bell County clerk, but Shelley Coston already has a long list of accomplishments to her credit.
For the past 16 years, Coston has immersed herself in law and has broken new ground for paralegals in Bell County.
Graduating in 1991 with an associate's degree in Business Administration from Temple Junior College, Coston went on to become the founding president for the Legal Assistant's Division of the Bell County Bar Association, for which she served two terms.
"I wanted a legal system geared toward paralegals; everything then was on the lawyer level, so that became our main focus," she said.
Within the first four months, Coston said, more than 100 paralegals had signed up to join the organization, and with 63 current members, she said the paralegal division is still going strong.
Still wanting her involvement even though her term limit for president had expired, BCBA appointed Coston as its administrative director, a capacity in which she served from 2004 until 2006.
Concurrently, Coston also helped to establish the Paralegal Studies Program at Temple College, from which she was one of the first to graduate in 2004. She also served on the program's advisory board.
In the meantime, Coston was employed as a legal secretary at the Bell County Attorney's office from 1990 until 1992, and then at the district attorney's office from 1992 until 1999. Prior to her assuming duties as county clerk, Coston was working as a paralegal/office manager for the law office of Jim Hewitt.
When former county clerk Vada Sutton announced her retirement, Coston said she knew it was her next career step.
"Vada was an icon in this county and was a person I would never consider running against," she said. "When she made her announcement, however, I knew this was just the natural next step for me – I knew this is what I wanted to do."
Seasoned by a 15-month campaign with two contested races, Coston said she is excited to see all her hard work come to fruition.
"There was never a time during my campaign where I could let my guard down; it was a constant battle the whole way," she said. And serving a four-year term as an elected official, Coston said, she doesn't intend to let her guard down.
"Being an elected official tells me that I do not have the opportunity to drop the ball. I want to maintain a standard that is going to keep me in office," she said.
Part of her strong work ethic entails educating herself as much as she can. Throughout her campaign, Coston attended commissioner's court meetings regularly. As county clerk, she has already attended various conferences and seminars for her job and receives daily training from her staff.
"I'm excited about every day and to be a part of this team," she said. "I have a wonderful staff, and they are the nuts and bolts of this place, so I'm very fortunate to be a part of that."
Coston's workdays are dedicated to serving the public, but sitting on her desk are constant reminders of what is most important in her life, photographs of her two children, Katie and Joshua.
"Being a mom is first and foremost the most important job I've ever had," she said. "I'm aware of how quickly they pass through our lives, so I decided that I'm going to be a much a part of their lives as I can."
True to her word, Coston devotes every minute of her free time to her children and said she is adaptable to whatever is going on in their lives.
Currently, that is sports, and Coston said she's spent plenty of time coaching, being team mom, and cheering on her children at games.
"My children are my escape, and it's so important for me to be involved in their lives to this degree," she said.
Contact Jennifer Phonexayhova at email@example.com or call (254) 501-7553