And after 14 years of working together, the duo went separate ways today as Faye Robertson retired during a small ceremony at the Calhoun County Administration building.
Calhoun County officials including state Rep. Barbara Boyd, Probate Judge Alice Martin and members of the Calhoun County Commission stopped by the County Administration building on Robertson’s last day to celebrate her 28 years in government. A Calhoun County native who graduated from Wellborn High School in 1972, Robertson began working in the county’s highway department in 1985. Robertson said she was working for the county’s Emergency Management Agency when County Administrator Ken Joiner called her about the job opening for his assistant.
“I never applied for the job,” Robertson said. “When he called me I said, ‘I know the job’s available, why are you calling me?’”
Joiner said Robertson’s background in several departments and her ability to work with payroll and budgeting made her an ideal choice for the position. As his assistant, Joiner said, Robertson eventually took over 99 percent of the budgeting process.
“I don’t know if you know what it’s like to do a budget,” said Calhoun County Commissioner Rudy Abbott during today's ceremony. “I can’t tell you how many times I saw Faye’s car in the parking lot on Saturday or Sunday. Eight hour workdays didn’t exist for her.”
Robertson’s tenure as assistant administrator oversaw the closing of Fort McClellan, the storage and destruction of the chemical weapons stockpile at the Anniston Army Depot and the deadly tornadoes that tore through Calhoun County in April of 2011.
“The amount of work and paperwork that happened after the tornado, getting FEMA funds, and through all that Faye did an amazing job,” said Calhoun County Commissioner J.D. Hess. “You have to have a great staff and great leaders, and Ken and Faye were a great team that brought a great staff together.”
But perhaps her most important everyday job, according to commissioners past and present, was keeping everyone out of prison, by making sure money was spent legally and the correct paperwork was filed.
“She kept talking about the jail, and I would say, ‘what about the jail,’” said Eli Henderson, Calhoun County’s circuit clerk and former commissioner. “She said, ‘listen to me and I’ll keep you out of jail.’”
Commissioner Tim Hodges added, “If she kept Eli out of jail, you know she did a great job.”
Robertson spent the last three months training her replacement, Melissia Wood, to help ease the transition.
“I’m filling in very big shoes, but Faye has been my biggest encourager,” said Wood, who was hired July 1. “Just being able to watch her interact with people these last few months has been so helpful.”
Robertson said that despite always telling Joiner she’d beat him out the door, she never actually believed she’d leave before Calhoun County’s longtime administrator, who has served more than 40 years.
Joiner said today that he thinks about retirement every day, and that the end “isn’t too far away.” But J.D. Hess said he hopes Joiner doesn’t walk out the door anytime soon.
“That’s when the world ends,” Hess said. “Ken is free to leave anytime, and we’d support him if he chooses to go, but we’ll try and keep him around.”
And if he does leave, his number, along with Robertson’s, will be on speed dial, as most in attendance for today's ceremony were happy to point out.
“I don’t think they’ll need me as much as they think,” Robertson said. “I just don’t think it’s sunk in for them, but I’m happy to help out if they do need me.”
Staff writer Brian Anderson: 256-235-3546. On Twitter @BAnderson_Star.