Mike North: 2nd annual ‘In My Humble Opinion’ Civil Service Awar | Local columnist
Last year, I wrote a column about the peculiar nature of civil service, public employees and their relationship with their employers — the public.
We’ve all come across the smug clerk or inspector who uses their authority like a weapon. But there are a lot of civil servants out there who view their job as a public trust, and do their best every day to help us through the maze of regulations, applications and permits that is “the bureaucracy.”
I decided to close my column last year by naming a few public employees that go beyond the call of duty to help the public. Alan Hulgan of TVA, Chester Sutherland of the Tennessee Department of Transportation, Faye Wood of the Catoosa County office of Planning and Zoning, Norma Lee, Chattanooga State registrar, and Fred Bunker of the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Regional Planning Agency were all mentioned.
The winner of the first “In My Humble Opinion” Civil Service Award was Marybeth Smith of the Walker County Board of Education.
I received a lot of response from that column, and have decided to make the award an annual event. Furthermore, the editors of the papers for which I write have agreed to take the winner out to lunch, and I will provide the winner with a plaque to remind them of our gratitude for their effort.
The past year has been no different than the previous one. I have had the opportunity to interact with public employees from many different communities and agencies.
I hope I don’t have to cross paths with some of them again, but several have such a pleasant demeanor and are so helpful that I look forward to calling them or dropping by to ask a question or pick up some paperwork.
This year’s nominees are:
Wayne Hamill — City of Red Bank. Mr. Hamill is the codes enforcement official for the city. A codes official has a lot of responsibility. They must enforce and apply rules of all kinds, from building codes to zoning ordinances. Wayne is a pleasure to work with. He knows his job and does it well because he understands both the spirit and the letter of the law.
Marie Hill — Catoosa County property records office. Marie is retired now, but I nominate her because I was not writing when she still worked for the assessor’s office. Someone who worked so hard for so long deserves to be recognized. Marie was one of those people who greeted you with a smile and never looked upon your request for help as an interruption to her job — she believed that helping was her job.
Todd “Puddin” Franklin — Walker County sheriff’s deputy. “Puddin” is the school resource officer at Ridgeland High School. He takes a positive attitude to work each day and realizes that his responsibilities go beyond keeping order and providing security. The real service he provides is as a friend to the staff and mentor to the students. The kids know he’s there to keep things straight, but they they can count on him to look out for them.
Annette Dolberry — City of Soddy-Daisy. Among other duties, Annette coordinates the submittal of subdivision plats for review and approval. The subdivision review process is different in every municipality, so developers, builders and surveyors need help keeping up with all of the deadlines and requirements.
One local planner once told me that it wasn’t his job to “hold our hands,” but Ms. Dolberry is more than happy to hold hands with anyone who comes to her for help. Her cheerful demeanor makes everyone’s day a little better.
The choice was hard this year because all of these folks are (or were) a pleasure to work with. But this year’s award goes to Marie Hill. All of us who worked with Marie through the years appreciate her work and value her friendship.
There are many other public employees throughout the tri-state area who could have been named, but the hard part of this job is narrowing the field to a few. It’s a task that I look forward to doing again this time next year.Mike North is a professional land surveyor, amateur historian and former member of the Walker County school board. For past columns and contact information, visit In My Humble Opinion.