April 24, 2014

Jennings library manager retiring in May

April 24, 2014 Joyce Marie Taylor Suwannee Democrat

Jasper — After 15 years of service to Hamilton County as Jennings Public Library Manager, Sandi Allen is looking forward to retirement in May.

“I signed up for DROP (Deferred Retirement Option Program) really wanting to retire in five years,” said Allen. “Now, with all the changes, I wish I hadn’t, but it’s a done deal.”

Allen said her husband Ben passed away in 2003. They have two children who live in Tifton and Doe Run, Georgia respectively.

“That’s where I came from,” she said. “I met Ben when I worked at Bayliner in Valdosta and then I moved here to Jennings.”

Bayliner, she said, makes boat tops and she worked in the upholstery department where she met her husband, who cut all the carpet for the boats.

Later on, Allen’s father began to suffer from Alzheimer’s and at her husband’s request, they brought him in to live with them so they could care for him, even building him his own apartment next to their home.

“It was a trial and error while we built that apartment,” she said. “He had a habit of going in and taking a milk jug out and drinking out of it, and all kinds of things that you just had to cringe,” she said, smiling as she reminisced about those days before her father passed on.

After her husband died, Allen said, “I never realized how much Ben helped me. When he died I didn’t even know how to turn the vacuum cleaner on.”

Allen said she now resides in Oak Woodlands, which is about 3/10ths of a mile away from the library.

“So I could walk to work,” she said. “I could, but I don’t,” she added, laughing.

The library, Allen said, has gone through a lot of changes through the years.

“We have a new director (Betty Lawrence) who’s awesome,” said Allen. “She’s just done a tremendous job. I don’t think a male director could have filled Danny Hale’s shoes. Lawrence has and she’s just a joy to work with and be around. She encourages us all.”

Allen said there have been many turnovers in the regional library staff since Lawrence came on board and she attributes it to the economy. She praised the new youth activities director, Cathy Ogburn Fender, saying she is doing a wonderful job.

Allen is unclear exactly what she will do once she retires, but going up to Doe Run, Ga. to help her daughter out for a while with her cabinet and remodeling business could be one option. She also wants to do a little traveling. Allen has no plans to leave Jennings, though.

“Right now I plan on staying here, doing a little traveling and taking my little dog wherever I want to go,” Allen said.

Her two-year-old dog, Little Man Bear, is a Pomeranian and she said she wants to have him bred.

“I want the pick of the litter,” she said.

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