Washington Evening Journal
http://washington-ia.villagesoup.com/p/936346

Neighbors Growing Together | Sep 23, 2014

12 days of Christmas spirit

By Andy Hallman | Dec 11, 2012
Michael Mullins, right, and Steven Rhodes enjoy the wide selection of snacks available in the Washington County Courthouse Monday.

The sweet aroma of freshly baked cookies permeated the Washington County Courthouse Monday. Everybody who stopped by the courthouse was welcome to a goodie from the table in the first floor lobby.
Jolene Colthurst of the Treasurer’s Office was responsible for organizing the treats this year. She said the courthouse has put on the event, which is called “The Holiday Tea,” every year for at least as long as she’s worked at the Courthouse, which is 38 years.
Colthurst said it was called “The Holiday Tea” because it started out as something small. Years ago, it consisted of cookies, coffee and tea. Now the Holiday Tea has grown so much, and there are so many treats, that the tea is an afterthought.  
“In fact, there is no tea anymore,” said Jeff Garrett, Washington County Treasurer.
Colthurst and Garrett said there were at least two dozen snacks on the buffet Monday.
The hours the buffet is served have also expanded over time. The treats used to be served from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m., but now they’re served from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
“They bring so much food it takes them that long to eat it all,” Garrett said.
Colthurst added, “We had cinnamon rolls, vegetable pizza, hamburger, salsa and three different kinds of fudge.”
Colthurst said she made two kinds of fudge, “because somebody requested peanut butter,” hinting at Garrett.
“The squeaky wheel gets the grease,” Garrett said.
Truth be told, two people in the treasurer’s office requested peanut butter. The other kind of fudge Colthurst made was chocolate.
Colthurst also supplied the party mix as well as the hamburger and salsa dip for the chips.
“I usually bring my homemade caramels, but I was a little stingy this year,” she said.
“I bet everybody brought two things,” Garrett said.
“We have some very good chefs here,” Colthurst said. “We always tease each other and say, ‘There are some Martha Stewarts here.’ We look forward to what Deb Simmering (of the Auditor’s Office) brings. I can’t compete with her. She made a cake that had peppermint in it, which was very good.”
Garrett said he likes to contribute bologna, cheese and crackers, because “I can cut that up myself.”
Some people who visit the Courthouse are hesitant to taste the treats because they don’t know if they should.
“We encourage the customers to eat, too,” Colthurst said, “One of them said, ‘There must be a lot of good cooks around here.’”
The responsibility for supplying the snacks falls on either the first floor or the ground floor of the courthouse, and the two floors alternate from year to year. This year it was the first floor’s turn, which meant that the offices responsible were the Treasurer’s Office, the Auditor’s Office, the Clerk of Court’s Office and the Recorder’s Office.
Next year, the offices on the bottom floor will be responsible. Those offices are the County Attorney’s Office and the Supervisors, plus the two offices in the building to the east, the County Engineer’s Office and the County Assessor’s Office.

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