June 2011| Alabama Living
A resident of the Jackson area for over seventy-five years, Betty Joyce Etheredge began working at Clarke-Washington EMC in October of 1971 as a Customer Service Representative, and her duties included billing, working delinquent accounts, cashiering and assisting the meter readers.
Prior to working for the Cooperative, Betty Joyce worked one year as Court Clerk at the Jackson City Hall and sixteen-years at Vanity Fair. “Mr. Jimmy Reeves suggested I put in my application at the co-op, so I took a few days to think about it before following his advice,” Etheredge recalls. “I had always heard good things about Clarke-Washington EMC, and with the twenty-cent pay increase, I was very happy with my decision to work there and felt blessed to have the opportunity.”
Betty Joyce began her career in the front office, handling delinquent accounts. “We manually did everything, using legal pads and ledger posting machines to document collections and so forth. Betty Quinley was Head Cashier at the time, and when she retired in 1987, I took her position.” In her early days at Clarke-Washington EMC, Etheredge worked closely with Ann Roberts, Sue Creighton, and Betty Quinley, and says it felt as if they were one big family. “It wasn’t uncommon to see us cooking a meal in the office kitchen after a storm hit, or serving breakfast to the linemen after they had worked a twenty-hour shift,” states Etheredge. “Our top priority was helping the customers, but during a storm or severe outage, we had to take care of the servicemen as well.”
According to Etheredge, she saw major changes in technology and office equipment. “I would say the biggest improvement was the use of the computer and fax machine,” states Etheredge. “It was much harder to document collections and keep record of accounts, but now the Customer Service Department has advanced equipment to make the job quicker. I always had a strong work ethic and tried to do more than was expected.”
No doubt the modern equipment of the Cooperative is much better than in years past. And new employees are taught techniques and procedures that have evolved to become quicker and more efficient. Etheredge says, “The one thing that hasn’t changed through the years is the friendly staff members and their commitment to help the customer any way possible.”
From 1998 through 2007, Etheredge enjoyed being Secretary for current CEO, Stan Wilson. “Looking back, I appreciate him putting up with me during those first months and helping me through the transition from Cashier to Secretary. He was a wonderful Manager to work for, and I am so happy to see Clarke-Washington still a success today.”
Etheredge says her fondest memories of working at Clarke-Washington EMC are of the people she has worked with and those she has helped while being a Customer Service Representative. “I visit the co-op from time-to-time, and enjoy attending the Annual Meetings each year. It’s always fun to visit with former co-workers and to bump into familiar customers from years ago,” she says.
After retiring in 2007 with over thirty-five years of service at the Cooperative, Etheredge enjoys being involved with her church, as well as spending time with her husband Carl, children, grandchildren and great-grandson.