Every Monday, The Times takes a look at someone who keeps local government running smoothly.
FLOWERY BRANCH — Although it has grown a lot over recent years, Flowery Branch is still small enough where people walk into City Hall on Main Street to pay their water, sewer and trash bills.
Those who’ve done that likely have been greeted at the front window by Martha Stephens.
She works at a desk just a few feet from the window and leaps to her feet when the doorbell rings, signifying another visitor to City Hall.
“I guess I know a third of the customers,” said Stephens, Flowery Branch’s utility billing clerk for nearly 12 years. “We have a lot of walk-ins.”
Stephens is no stranger to the area herself. She was born and raised in Hall County and now lives in Chestnut Mountain, also in South Hall, with her husband, Ed.
City government work is her second career.
She performed clerical work for 27 years for an area poultry manufacturing company.
Stephens didn’t work for another four years, then found “I needed something to do,” she said in an interview last week at City Hall.
After leaving the poultry company, “I enjoyed myself for a while,” she said.
“But if you’ve been active for many years and unless you’ve got something to keep you busy, no one should quit unless you have something to keep your mind active.”
She found her chance to get busy again when Evelyn Swann, the city clerk at the time and a member of Stephens’ Sunday school class at Grace Baptist Church, told her of the opening at City Hall.
“I thought it sounded like real interesting type of work,” Stephens said.
She hasn’t been disappointed.
“You meet a lot of people. You get to know them on a friendly basis,” Stephens said.
And she stays hopping at work.
“By the time I get home, I’m exhausted,” she said.
Outside of work, she and her husband, a retired manufacturing manager, do some boating — even though they haven’t been in a while — and chase after grandchildren. Their son, Brandon, has three sons, including one born two weeks ago.
She also teaches in the Awana children’s ministry program at First Baptist Church of Flowery Branch.
As for her future work, the 65-year-old Stephens is not so certain.
“Sixty-six is full retirement, so who knows,” she said. “It depends on the time when it comes. Right now, I enjoy my work.”