Smith County employees held a retirement reception July 31 to honor Sherri Hillard for her nearly 26 years of service to the county.
Sherri began working for Smith County in 1989. She was one of four phone operators in the Sheriff’s Office, working the switchboard for the entire county.
She went on to work in the records department, then as a secretary in the Criminal Investigation Division, for former Chief Deputy Sheriff Johnny Beddingfield and former Sheriff J.B. Smith.
After working nine years for the Sheriff’s Office, she became an assistant auditor and has been doing payroll for county workers ever since.
Every other week, Mrs. Hillard has been “planted to her desk,” making sure the county’s more than 800 employees, as well as 200-300 seasonal election workers, get paid. She puts a personal touch on her work, including an inspirational or funny quote on employee’s paychecks.
What Sherri has liked most about working for the county is the people.
“It’s been like family,” she said. “It’s like everyone is in the same boat.”
On July 31, 2015 Mrs. Hillard is retiring after her nearly 26-year career with Smith County.
Ms. Hillard has seen a lot of changes within the county during her career.
The county has grown tremendously since Mrs. Hillard started working for the Sheriff’s Office nearly 26 years ago, when she was based in the old Carlton Hotel along with dispatch and IT and most other county departments. Now the county has grown so much, employees are spread out, she said.
In the old days, everything was done manually. They hand filed everything and she shuffled more than 500 time cards for each payroll. When Smith County Auditor Ann Wilson came to work here in 2000, she made a lot of changes, updating and upgrading the way things were done. “We had to learn about change,” Mrs. Hillard said.
Those changes have made things better, she added.
Mrs. Hillard isn’t sure what all she will do after her work is done. She is used to waking up around 4 a.m. and isn’t sure if she will be able to get out of the habit. She does plan on doing a lot of relaxing and being a “monkey mom.”
Lillie, her nearly 10-month-old Brazilian Capuchin, has been going to work with her every day since she got her in December and is going to be missed, along with Ms. Hillard, by her co-workers.
Mrs. Hillard plans to spend as much time as she can outside with her animals, which includes horses, deer, burros, dogs, cats, and a Lemur named Benjamin. She and her husband of eight years, Don, are downsizing from their 43-acre property to 23 acres.