Hagerstown Housing Authority processor retires after 28 years

January 10, 2006|by MARLO BARNHART


When J.J. Newberry's on West Washington Street burned down in early 1974, employees of the store's credit department moved to temporary quarters on Pennsylvania Avenue.

That operation closed three years later and Nancy James found herself looking for work after 19 1/2 years with the company.

"I was offered a position at the headquarters in York, Pa., but I didn't want to move," she said.

James was approached by former co-worker Paul Eberhart, who had left Newberry's for employment with the Hagerstown Housing Authority (HHA).

"He got me an application, and I started there on Feb. 1, 1978," James said.

That first day of work was a Wednesday, and James recalls thinking how much she loved her new job right away.


"I said then I would stay until I retired, and I did," James, 65, said from her office at 35 W. Baltimore St.

On Jan. 31, she will retire after 28 years with the agency that manages more than 900 housing units in Hagerstown.

A native of Davis, W.Va., James lived there until she finished high school. When her parents, Charles and Wilma Jackson, were drawn to Hagerstown for Fairchild employment, she came with them. Her parents, now in their mid-80s, live with their daughter in the Beaver Creek area.

When she joined the agency in 1978, HHA had its offices in Potomac Towers. Her desk was in the middle of everything, and that's the way she always liked it.

"I never had an office of my own or a door until we moved to the current building," James said.

Everything was done manually, from typing the board meeting notes to collecting rent money, answering telephones and directing clients. After a few months as a management aide, James became a housing processor - the job she held for the rest of her career.

Duties have included performing yearly examinations of clients' status and keeping track of client changes in income, job status and number of members in the family. Other factors, including the amount of money spent on prescription drugs, figure into how much rent a client pays, she said.

Over the years, the HHA stopped collecting rents and cashing checks for clients at its office. Clients receive a rent statement that can be paid at a bank under contract to the agency.

"It's much safer now," James said.

In her years with HHA, James worked with three executive directors - Norman Foltz, Roger Miller and current director Ted Shankle.

She said she is going to miss the work, her co-workers and the clients, whom James said really appreciate what the people at the agency do for them.

"I even have a flower garden right outside my office window that I don't have to tend, and I'll miss that, too," she said.

James plans to continue leading an active life, caring for her parents and spending time with her two great-nephews, Caleb Lopez, 6, and Joshua Lopez, 2 1/2, who live in Smithsburg.

"I'm Aunt Nancy to them. They are the joy of my life," she said.

She also plans to volunteer in her community and to continue her world travels.

The Herald-Mail Articles