Thursday, March 13, 2008
Power company by day, public servants at night
By SUE WATSON
Two Northcentral Electric Power Association employees are recognized for what they put into their day jobs and what they have done for the citizens of Marshall County by night.
Dot and Dooney Childress of Byhalia each have given nearly half a century of their lives to serve Northcentral and its customers. She’s worked on the inside in many different capacities. He’s taken care of the outside handling construction.
Melvin “Dooney” Childress retired in July 2007 and still battles injuries he received while working to clear trees off power lines in the 1994 ice storm.
General manager Kevin Doddridge praised Dooney at his retirement reception, saying “Dooney has been an integral part of Northcentral. He has had his hands on just about all of Northcentral’s 1,242 miles of electric line.”
And Dot Childress has also been a heavy hitter for the company since she came on board as secretary and filled many positions since.
“You just don’t see many people like her anymore,” he said. “There’s not an employee at this entire association who has not felt her influence. She’s always looked out for the interests of Northcentral’s customers and its employees.
“She just adopted this area and has always wanted what’s best for us. I’ve seen her grieve over things she wanted for us but couldn’t get done.”
Dot Childress and Doddridge are from the same stomping grounds - Pleasant Hill and Olive Branch, where ball playing was everyone’s favorite pastime.
In her senior yearbook is written, “Dot’s probably the tallest girl to ever play on the Eagles’ team.” She was leading scorer in basketball her senior year, sweeping in 286 points, and she was elected most athletic girl that year. She lettered four years playing forward in the days when girls basketball was played on a split court.
Dot graduated from Northwest Community College with a degree in secretarial science.
Dot and Dooney met through mutual friends in Pleasant Hill, who attended wrestling matches back when Billy Wicks and Sputnick Monroe were big on the Memphis wrestling scene.
Dooney was born in Hickory Flat on the land owned by Sheriff Kenny Dickerson’s parents.
A veteran of the U.S. Navy, Dooney went to work for a pipeline as a welder before joining Northcentral.
Dot’s first job was with Dixie Tank & Bridge Company in Memphis.
She joined Northcentral in Byhalia in 1961 as secretary. At one time she served as acting office manager, and director of customer service. Her present job is in collections.
Dooney joined Northcentral as a groundsman and the two were married the day after his first day of work.
A dedicated Mason, Dooney was awarded the Watt Carter Achievement Award in 1997 by the Grand Lodge of Mississippi for his outstanding service as a District Deputy Grand Lecturer. He also served as a volunteer firefighter with the Byhalia Fire Department in the 1960s and 1970s. He was a big supporter of little league baseball when his son Mike was small. And he also served on the board of directors at Marshall Academy where the Childress children - Mike and Renea - and granddaughter Ali Reed attended.
Renea graduated Marshall Academy and attended Northeast and Northwest Community College. Ali Reed also graduated from Marshall Academy and now attends Northwest Community College and majors in nursing.
Granddaughter Kasey Childress lives in Decatur.
She then worked for Big Star in Byhalia before joining Marshall County as a receiving clerk.
Dooney’s favorite recreation was hunting, fishing, cooking and entertaining friends.
Dot likes to cook and do yard work. But she is most known for the huge amount of time given to public service outside her day job.
She served 20 years as alderman of Byhalia, was secretary and treasurer for the Byhalia Area Health Clinic Inc., and the Byhalia Recreational Club, Inc. And she served as treasurer of Northeast Mississippi Healthcare, Inc.
Currently, Dot is a charter member of the board of directors of the Marshall County Industrial Development Authority, and a member of the board of directors for Northeast Mississippi Planning and Development District and the Marshall County E-911 Commission.
Dot said she never imagined she would be so active in public service, accepting opportunities one by one as they arose.
“I took these opportunities to serve because I was interested in the protection of the people and in helping people get jobs,” she said.
Law enforcement and helping get industries to move to the county are her pet projects.
As a leader, Childress said she has always taken a conservative view on how to both help the community and spend taxpayers’ money wisely.
Some leaders she admires for their style and commitment include Kenny Dickerson, Amy Tuck, Eddie Briggs and Bill Renick.
Her scrapbook contains many news clips of stories written on the sheriff.
“Kenny has been really a part of the family,” she said. “The way we met Kenny is when Dooney was out at night working trouble where a car had hit a pole. At the time Kenny was a highway patrolman and he was investigating the wreck.
“They got to talking about where they were from - Hickory Flat - and ever since he’s been at our house for meals and holidays.”
Childress met Bill Renick at a murder trial in Ashland when Renick was mayor.
“I was up there listening to the trial because Kenny had done the investigation,” she said. “We’ve been friends ever since.”
Childress met former Mississippi Lt. Gov. Amy Tuck when Tuck was serving in the Legislature.
“I was attending legislative things in Jackson,” said Childress. “It is her leadership style and personality I admire.”
The same can be said for former Lt. Gov. Eddie Briggs. Childress met Briggs through Bill Renick and liked Briggs’ style of leadership.
Childress said she is an admirer of people who are open, friendly, and who try to get things done for their constituents.
“I have enjoyed working with public officials both past and present,” she said. “Former Sen. Bill Minor has supported the electric power associations and Marhsall County. Former Sen. Ralph Doxey has been a friend for years. His dad was an attorney for Northcentral. Rep. Jack Gadd and I go back a long way. I remember him since little league baseball. Rep. Tommy Woods is a long-time friend and his dad served on the board of directors at Northcentral.
“I’ve always had a good working relation with all of past and present elected officials. I’ve been very open with them and available to help them with anything that would benefit Marshall County, if they asked my opinion.”
The shelves of Childress’ office are covered with framed photos of her children, granddaughters, and friends. Also scattered about on the shelves of her office are pig dolls and pug dogs. And she must admire pug dogs because there are four figurines of pugs sitting on her office furniture.
News: (662) 252-4261 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Questions, comments, corrections: email@example.com
©2004, The South Reporter, All Rights Reserved.
No part of this site may be reproduced in any way without permission.
The South Reporter is a member of the Mississippi Press Association.
Site managed and maintained by
South Reporter webmasters Linda Jones, Kristian Jones
Web Site Design - The South Reporter
Back | Top of Page