By DON FLETCHER
News Staff Writer
The activities that went on Monday afternoon, October 23, at Atmore City Hall were, technically speaking, a city council meeting. But the gathering was actually a farewell party for the woman who has dispatched local emergency responders to wrecks, fires, shootings and other incidents for more than a quarter-century.
Betty Cox, known throughout the community as “Miss Betty,” will dispatch those entities for the last time this Friday, October 27, bringing to an end a span of 26 years of working behind the dispatching desk and directing the city’s other emergency dispatchers.
“There’s no telling in the 26 years she’s been working with the Atmore Police Department how many lives she’s saved by getting the proper person to the correct ambulance or fire or whatever,” Brooks said. “And she takes command of the calls. You have to understand how important that is; she gets the information and gets it out quick.”
The police chief touched on Betty’s love of sharing the Bible with those around her.
“She has shared in my eight-year tenure as chief and long before that, she has shared many a scripture with me,” he said. “I’ve even shared some with her.”
He explained that former chiefs Danny McKinley and Glenn Carlee had planned to attend her farewell fete, but McKinley was at the Alabama Attorney General’s Conference in Montgomery and Carlee was tied up with an issue in Brewton.
Then, before presenting her with a plaque of appreciation for her 26 years of dedicated service, he expressed his own feelings about his soon-to-be-former dispatch supervisor.
“Miss Betty is my friend; I love her,” he said, turning to her. “You are absolutely everything to me and my department, and I appreciate the 26 years you have put in.”
Betty, who founded and directs operations of Change of Mind children’s ministry, then spoke briefly, explaining that her vocation was actually much more than that.
“Where to start?” she asked, reaching for a tissue as her emotions took control. “I feel like a mother hen working with, I say, my family. Have I dotted every ‘i,’ crossed every ‘t’? I don’t think so, but when I messed up, I fessed up. I have tried my best to do my job to the best of my ability. I pray that God has been glorified.
“I didn’t look at it as a mere job; it was a ministry to me to serve the people. I’m going to miss it, yes, because it’s part of my life.”
She said she loved being around the police environment, although there’s only one weapon she would ever carry.
“The word of God was my weapon,” she explained. “Every opportunity I got, I tried to shoot that gun because I knew it was going to accomplish what it was supposed to.”
She closed her brief speech with more assurances of her personal feelings for those with whom she has worked.
“I love my co-workers,” she said humbly. “I know some of you probably say you’ll be glad when I do go, you’re so tired of hearing me. My season is up. Chief, I thank you for allowing me to be under your reign. Bless God, I wouldn’t change it for anything in this world. I’ll be in and out; it’s in my blood.”
After a brief standing ovation ended, Mayor Jim Staff spoke directly to Betty, asking her what the children to whom she ministers would do without her taking care of them.
“I’m going to be right there with them,” she answered. “I told them for the balance of my days I’m going to be right there on that corner, Wilson Avenue and Ridgeley Street, serving.”