END OF AN ERA
Cecilton to appoint new administrator Monday
CECILTON — Brenda Cochran has been the backbone of the county’s southernmost town for the past 12 years, but on Oct. 14 her service will come to a close.
Cecilton’s town administrator is set to retire and move back to her hometown of Clarksburg, W.V.
Meanwhile, Cecilton is also preparing for new leadership, scheduling a special meeting Monday night to vote on Cochran’s replacement. The search is down to two applicants, both of whom are local and have been interviewed by Mayor Joe Zang and the town council, Cochran said Friday.
To those who have intimately known Cecilton’s operation over the past few years, Cochran’s retirement probably doesn’t come as a huge surprise. She was diagnosed with heart problems a few years ago and doctors advised that she try to cut down on stress. Since then, she’s worked from home on Tuesdays and Thursdays with the blessing of the mayor and council.
In her retirement, Cochran will return to her childhood home, which was left to her and her two sisters following the passing of their parents.
“I’m so excited to get to move back to my family’s place, which my grandfather built in the 1930s and my parents lived in after,” she said. “I’ve already started making it mine with some fixes and remodels.”
Cochran moved from West Virginia to Townsend, Del., in 1986 after her husband, Allen, followed a colleague to a new job in Delaware. For years, she worked at a day care and later at F. Schumacher & Co.
Amidst downsizing at F. Schumacher in 2004, Cochran also learned that her mother had fallen very ill. Cochran left her position to take care of and spend time with her, and later learned of an opening in Cecilton for a clerk/treasurer’s position.
“I faxed my resume to the town and I got a call on a Friday that we needed to get home quick because my mother was doing worse,” she recalled. “We were trying to get ready to go when (then town administrator) Shelley McDonald called me and asked me if I could do an interview that day. I said, ‘Shelley, I would love to and I will, but do I have to dress up because I’m about to get on the road?’ She told me to stop on the way and we did.”
On that Sunday, Cochran’s mother passed away and a day later she was offered the clerk’s job in Cecilton. Following the funeral in West Virginia, she began her long run of service in town.
Cochran served as clerk/ treasurer for the town from 2004 to 2007, and was appointed town administrator after McDonald’s initial replacement didn’t pan out.
As Cecilton’s day-to-day manager, Cochran said she’s learned a lot about the operation of municipalities and local government. She had never lived in an incor- porated area before, so the bevy of ordinances and regulations necessary to operate one surprised her at first. Despite wearing many hats over the years, including planning and zoning administrator and code enforcement officer, she said she has mostly fond memories.
“I’ve loved it because I love working with people and the residents are all, mostly, fantastic,” she said. “I’m not going to miss issuing municipal infractions though.”
Cecilton has grown tremendously under Cochran’s watch, almost 40 percent between the 2000 and 2010 censuses, perhaps a hallmark of her tenure. The Parklands at Cecilton apartment complex was completed on her watch and the Frisby Meadows development was begun. Today, the town is working to aid residents of Pearce Creek-area communities in Earleville with water service, and the project occupies much of Cochran’s time.
“I know a lot of people in town may not like (the growth), but they have to realize that if they don’t grow the town will die, because it won’t have enough funding,” she said, noting that the town previously passed an ordinance creating a greenbelt around the town and preventing future sprawl. “We encourage people to live here and work in Middletown, Del., where there’s a growth of jobs.”
Cochran hopes that Cecilton always remains a place where neighbors watch out for one another and the community supports the greater good.
“Our town has that small town feel and charm, and I hope that never changes because that’s what makes Cecilton what it is,” she said.
Reflecting on her time with Cecilton, Cochran said the thought of leaving the small town is bittersweet.
“I’m an emotional person, so I know that’s going to be hard on me,” she said. “I haven’t lived in this town, but I’ve always considered it my town. I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed a job I’ve had more than this one.”
After 12 years of serving Cecilton, Town Administrator Brenda Cochran will retire in October. The town is set to appoint her replacement on Monday.