It’s been almost 40 years since Maryland’s District Court system began operating in July 1971, and Dixie Scholtes is just one month shy of being able to say she’s worked for the District Court system since it opened.
“It’s been a great job, so many changes in 40 years. We grew up together, the District Court and I,” she said.
Born and raised in Delaware, Scholtes — whose maiden name is Lecates — graduated from Delmar High School in 1968. She spent summers working in Ocean City, Md., driving the boardwalk train, then working a boardwalk game stand, then serving as a motorcycle meter maid.
A police officer with whom Scholtes worked suggested she apply for a job with the new court system.
“I’ve always ridden a motorcycle. Confrontations over $3 parking tickets — it led to here. Everything happens for a reason,” Scholtes said.
Scholtes, 60, started working in the District Court system in August 1971 in Ocean City and Snow Hill. In 1977, she became a Frederick County, Md., clerk.
Working her way up from district courtroom clerk to her current position as administrative clerk, Scholtes has worked just about every position throughout the system.
“I’ve never forgotten what it’s like to work in the trenches and do the paperwork,” she said.
Scholtes became administrative clerk for District 11, which includes Frederick and Washington counties, 33 years ago and has remained in that position.
When Scholtes started working in District 11, she said the office didn’t even have an electric typewriter. It has grown from eight clerks to 32 employees in Washington County. Frederick County has about the same number, she said.
Statewide, the caseload has grown from 800,000 cases in 1971 to 2.4 million last year, according to Scholtes.
Scholtes attended Salisbury State University and earned an associate degree from Hagerstown Community College. Her current position now requires a bachelor’s degree, she said.
Scholtes said spending eight hours a day with her co-workers has created a work family. They will celebrate Scholtes’ last workday, Friday, with a party at the Red Horse Steak House in Frederick, where she first met her husband, Michael.
Scholtes has lived in Hagerstown, but now lives in Frederick with her husband. The couple has three grown children, including twins, and this year they will have been married for 29 years.
The children live in Arlington, Va., Georgetown and Rockville, Md.
As Scholtes considered retirement, she chose not to wait until August for her 40th anniversary, so she could spend the summer at the couple’s Ocean City condominium. Her husband will continue to work for a while as she settles into retirement.
“I’m looking forward to spending the summer there and spending time with my children,” Scholtes said.