Cecilton preps for admin change
Cooper takes helm this week
— After several weeks of preparation, town administrator Brenda Cochran is confident in the future of the county’s southernmost town in the hands of her successor, Mary Cooper.
“It’s been great (working with Mary), I don’t mind handing the reins over to her,” Cochran said Friday, her last official day at the helm of Cecilton as she retires after 12 years of service.
For the last three weeks, Cochran and Cooper have worked side-by-side so the newcomer could get a crash course on the town’s identity, its upcoming projects and the tasks it takes to be its day-to-day manager. The two have also worked to clean and catalog Cochran’s office, which has accumulated quite a few documents, maps and more over her tenure.
“Every time I think of something more I need to do or tell Mary, I write it down on a notepad,” Cochran said. “I think I have a pen and paper in every room of my house now.”
Cooper said that she first met Cochran at a Maryland Municipal League
conference four years ago, and she’s stayed in touch since, leaning on her as a resource at times.
“Brenda is full of knowledge and I’ve enjoyed being a sponge, learning what I can from her,” she said. “I’m happy for her and for myself. I love this community and I’m so happy to be serving it.”
The preparation work continued into her last day at town hall, as Cochran and Cooper met with a Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development official to review a more than $400,000 grant that will fund a new inflow and infiltration study of the town’s water system, which will identify any issues with the underground infrastructure. It’s been almost a decade since the town’s last studies were done, but the new study is expected to begin before the end of the year.
Aside from work happening in town, Cooper said she has also put in many hours researching the town’s part in the Pearce Creek water solution, meeting with federal, state and local stakeholders and visiting the dredge spoil containment area.
“It’s an amazing project,” she said. “It’s big and it’s moving fast.”
Cooper said that she’s also spent much of the past few weeks getting out and talking to town residents, attending Lions and Ruritan club meetings and introducing herself at schools. She said the reaction so far has been very positive.
“The residents are all really excited. The relationship in the past has been a good one and I want that to continue,” she said. “They all play really great roles in this community; they do a lot of good and help a lot of people, so if the town can help in those efforts in any way, I want to make sure that happens.”
Cooper said that she’s also kept in touch with her friends in Chesapeake City, where she previously served as billing clerk for four years.
“I’m very close to my former colleagues in Chesapeake City, and in fact (Chesapeake City town manager) Sandra (Edwards) and I were emailing each other just this morning,” she said. “We’re looking forward to opportunities to collaborate on things in the near future.”
Cooper said she has lots of goals for the town, although at the outset she’s focused on just getting to know the community, introducing herself and staying abreast of project updates.
“It’s exciting times here in Cecilton,” she said.
Incoming Cecilton town administrator Mary Cooper, left, poses with outgoing town administrator Brenda Cochran on her last day at town hall Friday.