The person who keeps a close watch over your county tax dollars is your county treasurer. For two and half decades Nacogdoches County residents have placed that responsible job in the hands of Kay Watkins. At the end of this week she'll be retiring.
Monday's Nacogdoches County Commissioner's meeting was the last day Watkins so effortlessly recited revenues, standing balances and interest earned to commissioners. For 25 years, 9 months and 9 days Watkins has been balancing the county's books. But whose counting. She is. Numbers is her game. Watkins said, "I do remember numbers and it's an addiction. You get addicted to working with numbers."
She's fast on a calculator. That came in handy when computer keyboards were introduced to the county in 1984. Watkins recalled, "First two months my figures came up exactly the same as on a computer as it was hand done." No surprise to Assistant County Treasurer Vanessa Thorn. She has worked with Watkins for the last twelve years. "She's totally careful. Very strict. Very strict," said Thorn.
Perhaps a result of Watkin's mentor former county treasurer Herman Chancellor. He taught her the importance of frugality. Watkins remembered one particular day. "He handed me this cigar box and he said I need you to go to Commercial Bank and get back all the rubber bands and paper clips that we've carried down there for the last two weeks. I was so embarrassed."
Watkins no longer counts paper clips, but she's certain the books will add up when she passes them over on Friday. "Everything is with the interest of the taxpayer and the security of the money."