Reed retires today after 31 years with City of Natchez

Published 12:00 am Monday, June 30, 2003

NATCHEZ &045; When Carlee Reed stepped into the police department 31 years ago, she was really only looking for a steady job.

Little did she know that she would find a family as well.

Those who know of Reed’s knack for organization probably won’t be surprised to know that she can remember the exact date she started work for the city &045; Feb. 1, 1972.

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After only four months, Reed was transferred to City Hall to work as a secretary in the housing and sanitation departments.

Then, in 1974, to then-Mayor Tony Byrne’s office as a receptionist and switchboard operator before becoming secretary of the Engineering Department in 1993.

Since then, she has become a fixture at City Hall, learning the ropes and now, as a longtime employee, teaching new workers the ropes as well.

But now they’ll have to learn to get along without her. After more than three decades with the city Reed is retiring, effective today. She almost left once before.

When David Armstrong was elected mayor, Reed figured her days in the mayor’s office were through, but Armstrong kept her on as receptionist, and Reed couldn’t have been more pleased.

&uot;City Hall is my home,&uot; Reed said.

Last week, as Reed worked to tie up loose ends and pack boxes at the desk she will soon leave, she came across a reminder of the many hats she wears.

Tucked away in one of the boxes was a mirror Byrne gave her when she came to work for him.

On the back of the mirror is taped a newspaper clipping that states that while some employees know a little about a lot, and some know a lot about a little, &uot;switchboard operators know everything.&uot;

That pretty much encompasses Reed’s job description. A given day in engineering can include not only filing details of, and typing up specifications for, a host of projects.

It can include fielding messages from callers ranging from city officials to engineers to the concerned citizen that recently called to report a massive sinkhole in front of the post office.

City Engineer David Gardner, who started work in that department on the same day Reed did, said Reed’s knowledge of the workings of city government has helped him tremendously.

Reed’s knowledge, organization and caring for her fellow employees &uot;is a main reason why our department has been so successful,&uot; Gardner said. Reed’s helpfulness and friendliness are also noticed by visitors to the office, Gardner said.

&uot;The way she greets people, she’s a natural,&uot; he said. &uot;She has a way of making people feel comfortable.&uot;

Reed doesn’t know about all that. Instead, she said, it’s part of the job. &uot;We’re public servants,&uot; she added. &uot;We’re here to serve.&uot;

But Reed also goes beyond her official duties, said Gardner and others who work most closely with her.

For example, she has been known to dispatch an employee to a work site to tell another worker that his child is a sick at school. &uot;That’s just the kind of person she is,&uot; said City Engineer’s Assistant David Atkins.

&uot;She will certainly be missed,&uot; Gardner said. &uot;We have a cohesiveness that’s unusual for any office, and I attribute a lot of that to her.&uot;

Yes, Reed said she will enjoy having control of her own schedule, including being able to travel when she wants.

And Reed, who is active in Zion Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church and sings in its choir, still plans to keep busy.

But she also said she’ll miss the City Hall &uot;crew,&uot; which she said are like family to her.

&uot;We’re got each other’s back,&uot; Reed said. &uot;I’ve made some everlasting memories here.&uot;