2011-07-13 / LifeStyles

“IT’S TIME...”

County celebrates career of Beard

A steady stream of vehicles file through the Cherokee County Recycling Center on a daily basis, local residents pumping new life into an assortment of goods that previously would have been destined for the landfill.

Recycling customers expect each item they bring to receive a second lease on life. In the process of hauling recyclables by the box load, however, they also left the facility renewed in mind and spirit thanks to 83-year-old bay attendant Annie Beard.

The person taking her place has big shoes to fill, said Cherokee County Recycling Department Manager Gaylon Pennington.

“She’s got to know so many people through the years, and has been such a blessing to them,” Pennington said of Beard, whose last day on the job was July 8. “It is going to be hard to fill the void; not only taking on her responsibilities on the job but just being a good employee and better friend to all.”

Dozens of recycling customers took time to see Beard on her final day on the job, many hoping the news of her retirement was a rumor. Giving each of them a hug, she assured them it was time to get on with the next chapter life holds for her.

“I gave so many hugs through the years, and (Friday) I have received so many more,” she said. “The people bringing their recycling items have been so nice, They treat you like you are somebody. But it is just time for me to go. I’ve loved every minute of this, but it is definitely time.”

A health scare a few weeks ago prompted Beard to think about her future, with the local woman approaching recycling center officials about her decision to leave soon after,

“I just wanted to make sure I’m healthy, and able to go out on my own terms. I believe I am doing just that,” she said.

Known countywide for her infectious spirit and smile, Beard began working at the county recycling center in September of 1993, when it was known as the Green Thumb program. She was hired full-time by Cherokee County once the facility changed hands in 1994.

Assisting each customer upon their arrival at the Overbrook Drive facility, the local woman separated each item to be placed in any of a number of bins — whether it be paper, cardboard, bottles, tin, aluminum cans or plastic. Beard sifted through each of the bins throughout the day, making sure each recyclable wound up in its proper receptacle.

“Everything has its own rightful location and it has been my job to make sure it is put in its place,” she said. “Some things get scattered here and there when customers come in and dispose of their recyclable goods, but it’s not all that hard to do. You just pick it up and put it where it needs to be.”

Much easier was the daily interaction with employees and customers, each visit beginning with a welcoming smile followed by a kind word and ending with a “Have a great day!”

“This is a woman who undoubtedly has seen the world turn right in front of her,” said local resident Steve Moore. “One can only imagine all the people she has touched in her lifetime. No doubt, one of the beautiful people in our community is calling it quits. I’m sad to see her go, but happy because she is going out on her own terms.”

As a token of their appreciation, fellow employees and county officials held a brief ceremony on Beard’s behalf, with Cherokee County Council Chairman Tim Spencer presenting her with a pin recognizing the time she spent as an employee at the recycling center.

Beard said she will likely spend much of her free time at home making sure her home is neat and tidy.

“One thing I didn’t get to do much was clean house while working,” she said. “After work, all you really have the energy to do is go to sleep. I’ll have a lot of time now to make sure everything is in order.”

 

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