County, Rusk bid ‘Bon Voyage’ to 2 longtime employees

by Cristin Parker

County Treasurer Lassiter retires

Cherokee County staffers, friends and family bid County Treasurer Patsy Lassiter a fond farewell on Tuesday, Dec. 4.

Lassiter is retiring after 25 years with Cherokee County. She took office as County Treasurer in 2003. She also worked in former County Attorney Craig Caldwell’s office for nine years prior to running for treasurer.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank the voters of Cherokee County for electing me to serve four terms as your county treasurer,” Lassiter said. “It has been an honor and privilege to serve the citizens of Cherokee County. It has been an amazing journey that has been both rewarding and challenging but one that I am glad I made. The people of Cherokee County are absolutely the best. Thanks to my family and friends that have supported and encouraged me over the years, especially my husband, Jack. I couldn’t have done it without you.

“Thanks to everyone that was able to come to my retirement party. And especially those that did all the work to make it happen. I will miss my courthouse family, but I am looking forward to the next chapter of my life.”

County Judge Chris Davis presented Lassiter with a proclamation in her honor from the county during her retirement party.

“As bad as we hate to lose Patsy, I think she came with the plumbing in this place,” he joked of their longtime working relationship. “We’ve worked together ever since I’ve been here and it’s going to be real, real hard to get along without her.

“We want to recognize her outstanding efforts to serve the citizens of Cherokee County and Texas,” Davis read from the official proclamation.

As Davis finished reading the proclamation to Lassiter, Cherokee County Sheriff James Campbell added, with a laugh, “I’ve never heard Chris talk so long without saying something ugly – you should feel honored, Patsy.”

Cherokee County Historical Commission member Deborah Burkett also presented Lassiter with a keepsake honoring her contributions to the Commission.

“She has shared so many pictures from her mama’s scrapbook, family letters from the Civic War, and all for the good of the county,” Burkett said. “We truly do appreciate her.”

Newly elected Treasurer Erin Curtis will be sworn into office at the beginning of next year. Curtis has already been working as a part of Lassiter’s staff in recent years.

“She’ll do an outstanding job for the county,” Lassiter said. “She’s been a wonderful employee and has a good handle on the ins and outs of this office. I’m leaving it in good hands.”

McElfresh retires from city of Rusk

Rusk city employees wished City Building Inspector and Code Enforcement Officer Cliff McElfresh happy trails last week.

McElfresh is retiring after eight years at the city of Rusk and moving into a building official position with the city of Henderson. His last official day at Rusk was Friday, Dec. 7.

“Rusk has been good to me,” McElfresh said as he and other city workers enjoyed cake and laughs on Thursday, Dec. 6. “I couldn’t ask for a better city crew and I’ll miss everyone I’ve come to know and love here. I especially want to thank Mayor Angela Raiborn for the opportunity to come and work for Rusk. She was instrumental in getting the city’s code enforcement department up and running, with the help of Rusk City Council members at the time.

“It makes me proud that I was able to come back to my hometown and bring things up to code and enforce them like they needed to be enforced. I feel like I did a lot to educate people on the codes. I wasn’t here to step on people. There’s a lot of good contractors around here who were great to work with.”

This will be the second time McElfresh has worked for the city of Henderson. Other cities he’s worked for including the cities of Jacksonville, Palestine and Bullard. He’s worked as a municipal building and inspection officer since 1982.

“I’ve worked with Cliff since 1986,” Rusk City Manager Jim Dunaway said. “I worked with him Jacksonville when I was the city manager there. I’ve seen him grow personally and professionally. It’s going to be hard to replace him – he will be missed.”

City Secretary Rosalyn Brown added, “I definitely appreciate Cliff. He’s been a joy to have around since I’ve been here. I think he’s done well in sharing knowledge on code enforcement to the general public. He’s got a knack for handling the most adversarial situations – he’d hold his ground but still was always able to get (people) where they needed to be on whatever issue they might be having at the time.”

Some of the projects McElfresh said he’s most proud of having completed in Rusk included the demolition of the old Rusk motel formerly located on U.S. Highway 69; the old meat packing plant formerly located at the intersection of Fourth and Lone Oak streets; and several other residential properties in District 2.

“We’ve been seeing a lot of improvements going on in my district lately,” District 2 Councilman Walter Session said. “We’ll miss Cliff – he did a good job and was easy to work with. We hope he’s successful over in Henderson and we wish him well.”

Dunaway said he’s contacted the city of Jacksonville’s inspection department to help Rusk with state mandated plumbing, natural gas and electrical inspections as the city seeks a new code enforcement and building inspector to do those inspections.

“Things will slow down a bit, but building won’t stop,” McElfresh said. “But they’ll handle it and make sure everything is taken care of.”