By TRAVIS MORSE
---- — MT. VERNON — To Eloise Morris of Mt. Vernon, working as the office secretary for the Jefferson Fire Protection District is an “ideal job.”
For one thing, the position has flexible hours, which leaves her more time to pursue other activities like bowling and traveling, Morris said.
But perhaps most importantly, the job gives Morris the chance to work with a “neat bunch of people,” she said.
“I really enjoy being with the firefighters, the volunteers, interacting with them as they come and go,” Morris said. “Something's going on all the time — they're in and out — so it makes it very interesting. They're doing a great job and I feel like I'm helping to support them do that.”
Morris celebrated 30 years on the job Monday at a special party held for her at the JFPD's Mt. Vernon fire station.
In honor of the occasion, Morris' co-workers surprised her with a cake and congratulated her on her years of service.
District Fire Chief Michael Huntman said Morris is the longest paid employee at the JFPD and is a “great asset” to the department.
“She knows the ins and outs of it. She's been great for everybody,” Huntman said. “It's nice to have somebody with her personality and her ability to take care of this department — not only in this department but it's everybody in the fire district she takes care of.”
As office secretary, Morris handles the district's payroll and billing, and helps the chief prepare the budget. She also makes the district's deposits and keeps track of all the records.
It is a part-time position. When Morris isn't working for the district, she likes to bowl and travel.
She also is active in a study club and works with the Good Samaritan Regional Health Center Auxiliary.
“I usually work four or five hours a day,” Morris said of her JFPD position. “Some days I put in more time than that depending on the time of the month.”
Morris said her job with the district hasn't changed very much over the years.
“Nothing other than the pay's a lot better than it used to be because we operate on tax money, of course, and we didn't used to get very much tax money,” Morris said.
Stacy Tate, one of the chaplains for the JFPD, said Morris is likely the “most respected person” at the station.
Brian Beaty, a lieutenant with the district, called Morris “our fire department mother.”
“I love working with her,” Beaty said. “Any time you need something, she's always there for you. She's just a wonderful person.”
Morris began working for the district as the office secretary on Nov. 18, 1983.
Her two sons had just left home for college at the time and Morris was dealing with “empty nest syndrome.” As a result, she was looking for something to devote her time to, she said.
“When they offered it to me, I thought I'd give it a try,” Morris said.
Morris said she's glad she decided to take the job and looks back fondly on her time with the district.
She has no plans to retire from the JFPD any time soon.
Morris lives in Mt. Vernon with her husband, Charlie. They have been married 58 years. Their two sons are Lee and Michael, and they also have a grandson, Garrett.