Connie McCoy-Wasson, Smith County’s first female fire marshal, was honored during Commissioners Court Tuesday, March 27 for 25 years of service to the county.
After working her way up in the Fire Marshal’s Office, McCoy-Wasson became the first woman to head the office in November 2015. Beforehand, she served as deputy fire marshal for more than 20 years.
“She has worked hard in every position the Fire Marshal’s Office has to offer,” said Assistant Fire Marshal Chad Hogue. “People like [McCoy-Wasson] are rare. We are proud to be working for the Fire Marshal’s Office.”
In addition to serving as Smith County Fire Marshal, McCoy-Wasson also is the county’s emergency management coordinator, chairwoman of the Local Emergency Planning Committee, and treasurer of the Smith County Volunteer Fireman’s Association.
Smith County Administrator Leonardo Brown considered it a pleasure to work with people who have a willing and positive attitude like McCoy-Wasson.
According to McCoy-Wasson, she was a single mother raising two boys in 1993 when she was hired as secretary by the late Smith County Fire Marshal Charles Shine. She was soon asked to help work fires and went to school and earned her certifications to become a firefighter, investigator, and inspector, as well as earning her peace officer license.
When she started, McCoy-Wasson was not easily accepted because there were no female firefighters. When they asked her how she could fight fires with long blonde hair and nails, she told the men that her hair would fit underneath a helmet just like theirs did.
She had to work hard to prove herself, and after three years, she felt she was finally beginning to be accepted by her male counterparts.
“In the last 25 years, I’ve seen so many things I never thought I’d see,” said McCoy-Wasson.
From fighting large commercial fires to inspecting foster homes and helping residents with recovery and clean up after a tornado, McCoy-Wasson said, “You know you’re here for a reason. You know you’re making a difference in the citizen’s life. That’s why we do this job.”
Several other Smith County employees were also recognized for their years of service to the county during Smith County Commissioners Court on Tuesday.
Bridget Pryor was recognized during Commissioners Court for 20 years of service to the Adult Probation Department.
In 1998, Pryor began working in the misdemeanor unit before moving to felonies. She was a probation officer for the 114th District Court for 12 years before she began working in the civil division.
Since 2016, she has worked in the child support unit as a court officer for County Court-at-Law Judges Jason Ellis and Randall Rogers.
“Probation is very proud to have her,” Kasey Quezada said when presenting Ms. Pryor with the recognition. “We’re proud to have her as part of our team.”
Also recognized for her service to the county was Larita Arthur, honored for 20 years of work by Smith County Juvenile Services Director Ross Worley.
Arthur began as a supervision officer, then worked as a supervisor and now does all of the training for Juvenile Services.
“It has been a roller coaster ride I would take again,” Arthur said.
Smith County Adult Probation Department employeeAmber Clark was recognized for 10 years of service. She works in the pre-trial unit, supervising people who are out of jail on conditions of bond.
“She does an excellent job,” Adult Probation Supervisor Mandy Zehren said. “I want to thank her for her 10 years of service to our county.”
Smith County Tax Assessor-Collector Gary Barber honored Cathy Sowells for working 10 years in his office. She started as a front window clerk and now is a supervisor in the property tax department.
Smith County employees who were also recognized this month for their years of service to the county, but who were not present in court, included Hope Woods, Sheriff’s Department, 15 years; Amber Scripsick, Adult Probation, 10 years; Michael Hendrix, Road and Bridge, 10 years; Terry Hicks, Sheriff’s Office, five years; Tony Rucker, Sheriff’s Office, five years; and Jordan Sickman, District Attorney’s Office, five years.