The town of Farragut’s beloved receptionist, Bettye Newby, will retire this week after nearly 20 years of service. Her smile, optimism and willingness to help anyone with anything will be sorely missed. She sat down with the Farragut Insider to reminisce about what Farragut was like when she began her service at Town Hall.
“For one thing, my chair was archaic,” she laughs.
When she complained to Town Administrator Dan Olson, he told her to pick out a new chair. The chair she chose was expensive, but he agreed to the purchase. She has sat in the chair ever since and it still looks brand new. After all, Bettye knows how to take care of things.
She remembers the first time she met each of the administration staff. Human Resources Manager Janet Curry was wearing a checked coat. Town Recorder/Treasurer Allison Myers, who joined the staff one month after Bettye, is like a granddaughter. They’re like a family, Bettye says.
She’s met much of the community, too. At one time, she helped register each member of Farragut’s recreational sports teams. She stamped the site plans of all construction projects in the town, which introduced her to local developers.
“I’ve seen so much. I’ve seen the town grow,” she says.
She remembers when Turkey Creek Shopping Center was just a field. She also recalls asking Olson why the town was spending so much on improving McFee Road. He responded, “Bettye, that’s where the town is going.” She’s seen multiple improvements at town parks, including the addition of holiday lights at Founders Park at Campbell Station under current Town Administrator David Smoak.
As the receptionist, Bettye was at the center of the storm during any crisis. She remembers fielding calls when mud came down the hill during construction of the Fox Run expansion. Snow days always lit up the lines with residents wanting to know when their streets would be plowed. The calls weren’t all pleasant, but Bettye has a way of diffusing anger with politeness. It works so well that one angry caller drove to Town Hall afterwards to apologize to her.
She’s also been a resource for those needing help with, well, just about anything. She once received a call from a woman who needed help calculating the discount on a potential purchase at Kohl’s. Bettye is passing on a list of frequently-asked questions and answers to Gwyneth Carroll, who is training to replace her.
“It’s just amazing what people call and ask you,” she says.
In addition to serving the public well, Bettye became an expert at taking care of the town of Farragut staff. She knows each staff member personally and tries to make sure everyone has what they need to get their work done, including an occasional break from phone calls. She chuckles as she recalls telling her three sons “to always be good to secretaries because they can make you or break you.”
Bettye is 84, but she plans to stay active in retirement by spending more time with family and friends. She’ll miss interacting with Town Hall visitors and staff, but she’s ready to find new ways to serve the community.
“I just like people. I really do.”
Town of Farragut marketing and public relations coordinator Wendy Smith is your reliable Farragut insider.