County honors 3 long-time employees
Posted: Friday, April 24, 2009 9:08 pm
By JOHN BRANNON
Messenger Staff Reporter
Three of Obion County’s finest employees were honored Monday at a monthly meeting of the Obion County Commission.
Obion County Mayor Benny McGuire presented certificates of appreciation to Lori Seals, Judy Smith and Kathy Clifton for their many years of service.
Mrs. Seals, Obion County trustee, has served in the trustee’s office 30 years.
Mrs. Smith, deputy property assessor, has served 30 years.
Ms. Clifton, deputy clerk in the county clerk’s office, has served 20 years.
“We all have physical assets that we can touch, but the greatest asset we have in these United States and Obion County is our people,” McGuire told the commission and a small audience of spectators gathered in the Circuit Court courtroom at the Obion County Courthouse.
“For this reason we are honoring these ladies today. They are long-time employees who help make the wheels of county government turn day after day. Publicly recognizing the service of our county employees is a new thing, and as long as I’m mayor, we’ll continue it. But we won’t wait 20 or 30 years. It’ll be in five-year increments.
Each of the honorees told The Messenger they were surprised but pleased about the recognition.
Mrs. Seals said her first day on the job in the trustee’s office was April 16, 1979. She started as deputy clerk. She was elected trustee in 2004 and re-elected in 2006, “and I’m going to run again (in 2010) if they’ll have me.”
She said in the 30-year period, she got married and had two children. Her husband is farmer Ricky Seals. Their children are Jentrie (Seals) Coffey, 25, of Hickman, Ky., and Courtney (Seals) Carroll, 24, of Dyer.
“It’s the only job I ever had,” she said. “It’s been a long haul and a great opportunity, and I appreciate the people for expressing confidence in me.”
“This is the first time the county has done anything like this, honoring employees for their years of service,” Mrs. Smith said. “I am pleased and impressed.”
She said her first day on the job was April 9, 1979, only a few days before Mrs. Seals began her career in the trustee’s office.
“In fact, our offices were side by side,” she said.
In the 30-year period that has slipped by since then, she has gotten married and had two children. Her husband, Tim Smith, is a Goodyear employee. Their children are Allison Baldwin of Troy and Todd Smith of Union City.
“I’ve enjoyed the work and working with the people,” Mrs. Smith said. “We’ve seen a lot of changes in the property assessor’s office and in the county. We’re using computers in the office, and that was not even talked about when I started. Everything was on paper. Computers have benefits, except for some days they don’t want to cooperate.”
Mrs. Smith said she’s nowhere near retirement age and therefore plans to “be here a while longer.”
Ms. Clifton said she was very surprised to be honored at the Monday meeting. “I didn’t even know the county commission was aware of our anniversary dates,” she said. “I very much appreciate the recognition.”
She said her first day on the job was April 12, 1989, and she’s learned to treat people the way she wants to be treated — kind and courteous and professional.
“I’ve made a lot of friends in these 20 years working in this office,” she said. “At least once a year we get to see them. I’m always glad to see them coming in the door to renew a license plate or buy a new one.”
Ms. Clifton has had the experience of adjusting to using computers after depending so long on typewriters. When she first started her career in the office, the staff used only manual typewriters. Then came electric typewriters, then computers.
Computers were supposed to make their jobs “paperless.” But it didn’t happen. “We handle just as much now, maybe more, than we did before,” she said.
One big change she’s seen in those 20 years concerns the expiration date of license plates. For so long, plates expired on March 31. Then the state began staggering expiration dates. “That made things a whole lot better for us,” she said.
She’s been there 20 years. What about the future?
“I’ll stay here. I’m too old to change,” she said. “I want to stay at least until I reach retirement age. Meanwhile, I like what I’m doing. I enjoy what I do.”
Published in The Messenger 4.24.09