She attended her last board meeting Wednesday.
“It has been a privilege, though sometimes a bumpy road, but I have enjoyed the opportunity,” Williford said.
“Mary T. Williford is ending 20 years of excellent service. I’ll be the first to say that the road hasn’t been paved with gold, but we have weathered the storms, and bridged the gaps for the benefit of the tenants,” board member Charles Woods said.
“I can’t thank you enough,” Woods told Williford.
“She has done a great job,” board member Carl Latta said.
Williford served 14 years as the Housing Authority’s secretary and director of finance in Phenix City before being hired in 1992. She has served 20 years as executive director of the Childersburg and Vincent housing authorities. Together Williford was responsible for 190 units in Childersburg and 32 units in Vincent. Her final day is today.
As director, Williford received several awards, including the government’s “High Performer.” To earn the distinction, Williford and the Housing Authority had to score at least 90 in four areas — management, finances, modernization and maintenance.
Williford said that one of her more rewarding moments was when a mother and son both learned to read through a reading program the authority offered the tenants.
Williford said she plans to remain active after retiring. Following a family vacation, she said she will continue with her interior decorating and assisting her daughter with a gift shop. She also plans to spend time with her grandchildren.
The board entered a contract with Williford to serve as a consultant on a month-to-month basis during the transition period. She will work to ensure a smooth transition between administrations and to orient the new director.
After comments about Williford’s service, board chairwoman Billie Crawford entertained nominations for a new executive director.
The board interviewed 17 of 24 candidates and narrowed its selection to three. “I think we all agree that we should hire local when we can,” Woods said.
“I think Mayor (B.J.) Meeks set the tone when he said we will never find a candidate where everyone is happy,” he said. “We need to send a message that although we have different views, we are together as a board. We should put differences aside for the good of the authority,” he said.
After discussing the pros and cons of three candidates, Childersburg City Councilwoman Bonnie Carter asked to address the board.
“In my district there is a majority living in the housing authority,” Carter said. “You need to ask who is best for the children and tenants. Who will help get the daycare open and provide an after school program?
“I need help with my children,” she said.
After further discussion, the board voted to hire James T. Clark to replace Williford, offering him $57,000 a year and the same benefits Williford received. The vote was three for and two abstentions.
Woods said the board’s vote is independent of the Vincent Housing Authority’s vote. Childersburg’s vote was non-binding and the Vincent board could vote to accept or reject Clark. The Vincent board serves both Vincent and Harpersville.
Under the present arrangement, both authorities share revenues that provide for administration and maintenance. Should Vincent reject Clark, the authority could decide to join another agency and the Childersburg authority would lose revenue.
In other business, the board agreed to loan three computers to Holy Faith Temple in Childersburg for its summer program.
Crawford, the church’s pastor, said the program is designed to provide children with alternative summer activities.
Contact Mark Ledbetter at firstname.lastname@example.org.