Women in Business

Helping to keep the Town running

Among the women working for town of Farragut, seated from left, Julia Barham, Betty Newby, Lori Saal; standing are Pam Hall, Wendy Smith, Beth Barrows, Arleen Higginbotham, Sue Stuhl, Janet Curry, Alexis Crawford, Jenn Hatmaker, Alllison Myers and Theresa Lawson.
The women of Farragut Town Hall help keep the Town running.

Some have worked for the Town since it was incorporated — one of which is retiring — while others are new to the scene.

Alexis Crawford, Community Development senior administrative assistant and municipal court clerk, was hired July 29, 1989, and will be retiring June 30 after 28 years with the Town.

“It’s been a journey,” she said. What she enjoyed most was “watching Farragut grow and seeing the many changes that have taken place in the Town.”

“I’m excited and nervous [about retiring],” Crawford said. “I’m looking forward to the next phase of my life.”

While she has no immediate plans, Crawford said she would like to do some volunteer work, possibly with the elderly or animals.

As Community Development senior administrative assistant, she assists Town planners and serves as backup for the Building department. She also serves as the Town’s court clerk and “anything else that is needed,” she said.

Crawford has spent most of her career in the Building, Planning and Zoning part of the Community Development department — and she spent 24 years as the court clerk — but she was hired as a receptionist after seeing the job posting in the newspaper.

She later was promoted to Town secretary and then administrative assistant Community Development.

“I’ve done it all,” she said. What has she learned?

“What haven’t I learned … I knew nothing of the many aspects of how a Town runs [when she was hired],” she said.

Crawford served under three mayors and five judges. She remembered when building and zoning were separate entities.

“I was in the building department in 1992 and went into planning from 1995 to 1996,” she said. “I came in at nine years of the Town’s incorporation.

“[The Town] was basically getting started at that point,” Crawford said. “There were only three traffic lights. I don’t know how many there are now.

“We went from [the Town Hall] in the barn behind the Russell House to a little building by Rick Terry Jewelry Designs,” Crawford said. “Then, we watched the building of the Town Hall.”

She has seen the small bedroom community progress to a Town.

“People have come from Oak Ridge and the technology has increased. The population has increased,” Crawford said. “It’s still a great community, but it’s not the close little community it was back then.”

As she prepares for her retirement, she advises, “Carry on, progress and remember where we came from.”

In contrast, this year the Town welcomed Farragut High School senior Caitlin Waters as its 2016-2017 intern.

Waters wanted to follow in her older brother’s footsteps, so she chose to do her senior project working at Farragut Town Hall.

“My brother did his [project] at the Town Hall in 2013,” she said. Caitlin Waters, 18, specifically works with Farragut Parks Department.

“She works primarily with Lauren Cox, Farragut Special Event and Program coordinator,” said Wendy Smith, Farragut public relations coordinator.

“Even though she’s just with us for a few hours each week, Caitlyn has been a real asset to the Parks and Leisure Services department,” Cox said. “She’s a hard worker with a great attitude.

“What we hope to give back to her is experience in working with the public and providing customer service. She’ll also learn that the Parks Department isn’t just about playing; it’s also about planning and organizing,” Cox said.

Waters said she helps set up events, from setting out food and helping man events. Her first event was a tea for Farragut Museum in January.

She also cut up a lot of paper for invitations, bulletins, fliers and programs.

“I cut two hours and 30 minutes worth of paper every day,” she said.

“Before I worked in the [Parks and Leisure] offices, I worked in the museum and learned a lot about the history of Farragut,” she said. “I’m glad I’m upstairs now. It keeps me busy.

“This is my first time working an event program,” Waters said. She started the project in the middle of January and will finish the project in May.

“But, they offered me a job, so I will be working as a park assistant in the summer,” Waters said.

“She’s a hard worker, so we decided to rope her in,” Smith said.

By working for the Town, Waters said she hoped to get experience in event planning.

“I want to be a wedding planner or an event coordinator after college,” she said. “I feel like this will give me a lot of experience for that.”

Waters plans to attend Lee University in Cleveland, Tenn., and study business administration.

This is her first time setting up special events. So far, she has learned how much food an event takes and that she needs to come in early to set up. She also learned it takes months and months to plan an event.

Her teacher at FHS, Brenda McGrath, told Waters that she must have 100 hours on the project before she can graduate.

“It’s a pass or fail,” Waters said. “I’m half-way there [with the hours].”

The other requirements include she cannot get paid for the work, she must dress appropriately, be respectful and don’t lie about her hours, Waters said.

Karen Richards, Community Development Department senior administrative assistant, is another long-time Town employee, having been with the Town for 22 years.

Richards provides technical and administrative office support for the Community Development Department, specifically the Codes Division. 

“I provide assistance to citizens, businesses, builders and developers related to the process and issuance of building permits, scheduling inspections, facilitating citizen requests and numerous related duties as needed,” she said.

She most enjoys her coworkers and providing good customer service for her department.

“There are so many [memories], but my most memorable was the VIP tour of Costco prior to its grand opening,” Richards said. “I was fortunate to meet and speak with the former president and CEO, James Sinegal.”

Allison Myers, Town recorder and treasurer, has been with town of Farragut for 16 years.

For Myers, a Farragut resident, being hired with the Town was a convenient one.

“It was close to home,” she said, adding what she enjoys most about working for Town government is the people with whom she works. One thing she learned about the Town, she said, is “how much we do for the community.”

Betty Newby, receptionist and the face everyone sees upon entering Town Hall offices, also has been with the Town for 16 years.

“Most people probably think I just meet, greet and answer the phone but I do have some responsibilities,” Newby said.  “Developers come by for various required applications which I check in, and collect payments when they submit their plans, applications and payments.”

Newby was new in Town when she came in to obtain a license plate and register to vote and saw a “receptionist wanted” sign.

“As I came in the front door, I stopped at the front desk to inquire directions to the County Court Clerk’s office,” she said. “There was a small sign posted that a receptionist was needed. I thought, ‘Well, I could do that!’

“I had just retired from The University of Tennessee at Martin and moved to Knoxville to be near my family. The rest is history,” she said. “Working as the receptionist at The Town of Farragut is my dream job.  

“The employees of the Town are my second family,” Newby said.  “For my 70th birthday they surprised me with a party.  I told them at the time that the party was good for a lifetime, but this past August they again truly surprised me with a party for my 80th birthday. 

“They make me feel so special,” she said. “People are always coming by and telling me that they want my job when I retire and I tell them I am not quitting.”

Pam Hall, an accounting clerk for the Town, has been employed there for 13 years.

“At the time I was hired, I lived in the Ball Camp Community but have since moved to West Knox County just outside Town limits,” she said.

Hall is responsible for payroll and accounts payable and bank deposits, but she also records and broadcasts Town meetings. She said she most enjoys her co-workers.

“I think we work well together,” Hall said. “They have been very supportive of me. I have enjoyed meeting all the volunteers who make Farragut such a big difference in our community.”

Julie Barham, historic resources coordinator, has been employed with town of Farragut for almost nine years.

“My main responsibility is to run the Farragut Museum,” she said. “I also spend about 20 percent of my time on public relations and marketing for the Town.”

She was hired after she applied for the museum coordinator position following her graduation from Tusculum College with a degree in museum studies in May 2008.

“I have been happily working here since,” Barham said.

“My favorite part about working for the Town is working on museum exhibitions and also working with the many awesome volunteers that come in daily to take people on tours and operate the gift shop.

“My favorite memory is the night we had our grand re-opening celebration in 2012,” she said. “We had all worked so hard for months, changing exhibits and getting everything ready. It was just so great to see how much everyone enjoyed the new exhibits and to see their excitement to be a part of preserving our community’s history.”

Since Barham has been with the Town, she said she has learned more about the Town’s history.

“I knew basic things about Town history when I was hired,” she said. “My grandmother had been a longtime resident, but I still had many things to learn.

“I was lucky in that I had a great group of core volunteers, such as Barbara Beeler, Mona Smith and Malcolm Shell, as part of my museum committee. They were always there helping me and happy to teach me about our community’s rich history.”

Theresa Lawson, administrative assistant to Town engineer Darryl Smith, has also been with the Town for nine years.

“I take care of all his administrative needs,” Lawson said. “I maintain his calendar and all the personnel in my department and schedule meetings when necessary.

“We receive many citizen requests in Engineering and I take care of their concerns as efficiently and professionally as possible,” she added.

Lawson also prepares Farragut Municipal Planning Commission meeting minutes for Community Development Director Mark Shipley and assists the Community Development Codes Department when needed.

“I’m a team-oriented person, and I love working around people,” Lawson said. “So, if someone needs help in another department, I’m always happy to help out.

“I enjoy working around people who are interested in providing the best service and commitment to the citizens of Farragut,” she said. “We are a close-knit group here at the Town of Farragut.”

 Her favorite memory is working the Independence Day Parade, which Farragut Parks and Leisure Services Department coordinates.

“You meet a lot of the Town’s people at the parade and have a more personal connection to those people you see every year,” Lawson said. Another favorite memory is the gathering of all departments for the Town picnic and getting to know everyone on a more personal level.

She was still living in Georgia when she applied for a position with town of Farragut.

“I needed to be closer to my family in Knoxville,” she said. “I interviewed with Town staff, had the skill set and personality they needed and I was offered the job.”

Another nine-year Town employee is Arleen Higginbotham, administrative assistant to Farragut Parks and Leisure Services.

Besides doing the clerical office duties, Higginbotham said her main responsibility is to take all pavilion, classes and special events reservations.

In that role, she said she most enjoys talking with people.

“I couldn’t ask for a better group of people to work with,” she said.

One thing she learned about the Town is its boundaries — what is in the Town and what is not, Higginbotham said.

Lori Saal, Farragut Stormwater coordinator, has been with the Town for five years.

“I manage the Town’s Stormwater program, which is required by a state permit,” Saal said. “As manager of the program, I create and implement plans and procedures for public education and participation, illicit discharge detection, construction site enforcement, post-construction stormwater management and municipal good housekeeping.

“The ultimate goal of the program is to improve the water quality of Town waterways,” she said.

Saal initially was hired as a part-time sustainability coordinator.

“I had recently moved to the Knoxville area and was searching for an environmentally-related position,” she said. Since she was hired in 2012, she was promoted to Stormwater coordinator.

“I enjoy the people I work with, as well as the great benefits and flexibility I am granted,” Saal said. “I always enjoy our annual Christmas party, which is relaxing and fun.

“Most of all, I’ve learned a lot about how a local government functions, which has been both interesting and helpful to my job,” she said.

Lauren Cox has served the Town for almost six years. As special event and program coordinator, she is in charge of Town special events, quarterly programs and classes and volunteer recruitment. She also produces Town programs and flyers, makes community room reservations, handles social media for Parks and Leisure Services, provides staff support for Farragut Arts Council, serve as backup for Parks.

Before working for Town of Farragut, she was employed with City of Pigeon Forge Parks and Recreation Department and saw there was an opening with Town of Farragut.

“I lived in Knoxville and was making the commute to Pigeon Forge each day so I thought this would be a better fit,” she said.

“I have the best boss and coworkers.

“Sue [Stuhl, Parks and Leisure Services director, who has been with the Town since 1991,] is a dream to work for and is very team oriented,” Cox said. “She gives us every opportunity to expand our knowledge about parks and recreation. My coworkers are just like a big family. We always support each other.”

Her favorite memory of being with the Town is when she watched her son participate in his first Bob Watt Fishing Rodeo last year.

“I love getting to share my job with my family,” she said. 

Jennifer Hatmaker, executive assistant to the Town administrator, has been with the town for four years. She also serves as a backup municipal court judge.

In her role as executive assistant, Hatmaker’s responsibilities include performing administrative duties for Town administrator David Smoak and Farragut Board of Mayor and Aldermen, maintaining traffic enforcement court records and attending Municipal Court for red light violations, maintaining official minutes for the Education Relations and Economic Development Advisory committees, maintaining the Citizen Request Tracker system, maintaining various reports and files and acting as a backup to other administrative support staff.

“I enjoy all of the great people that I get to work with,” She said. “The people that you work with can greatly influence how much you enjoy what you do each day.

“We all operate as a team and help each other when needed,” Hatmaker said.

This year, the Town also hired two new employees in January: Wendy Smith, public relations and marketing coordinator, and Beth Barrows, Farragut Parks and Leisure Services administrative assistant

Smith coordinates Town publications, writes media releases, posts on social media, updates the Town website and helps coordinate Town branding and works with local media.

“I enjoy writing, and it’s fun to use a variety of creative ways to keep citizens informed,” she said.

Before Smith joined the Town, she was a local reporter. Because of that role, she said, “I knew a lot about the Town before I started working here, but I’ve really enjoyed getting to know staff members better. My coworkers are both professional and good-natured, so work is enjoyable.”

Barrows said her current position is directly related to what she studied in college.

“So, when I saw the opening [with the Town], I jumped at the chance and was blessed with the offer of employment,” Barrows said.

“I’m happy to be employed by an organization that has a true care for their residents and surrounding communities,” she said.   

Some of Barrows’ responsibilities include coordinating the Adopt a Mile and Adopt a Greenway programs, assisting with special event preparations, and scheduling field use requests for athletic field user groups.

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