The “Dirt Lady” Retires After Three Decades of Service | New

Known affectionately as the “Dirt Lady,” Patty Dellinger retired from her tenure as director of the Lincoln County Soil and Water Conservation District after serving more than three decades in the department. Beginning with the county on July 11, 1988, as a typist, Dellinger worked his way up the departmental ladder to leadership.

“I had no idea what the department was,” she said. “I thought it was sewage and water or something. Of course, it wasn’t that, but I was lucky enough to get the job.

At that time there were three other staff members. They were technical employees and spent a lot of time in the field working with the farmers.

“With their absence from the office, I didn’t really know what to do, which gave me the opportunity to do some research to find out more about the office and the services provided as well as the partnership with the Soils Division and some water. Conservation, USDA, and the Natural Resources Conservation Service, ”she said. “It took about a year to really understand how everything worked and to learn all the acronyms used. “

Dellinger also served as a backup for the county switchboard which handled calls for all county departments.

“The switchboard help allowed me to learn more about other county departments and the services they provided,” she said. “Al Sharp was the county manager at the time.”

It’s no surprise that regulations have changed in the county and state since Dellinger started with the department. There were many more dairy farms when she started and participation in the Soil and Water Conservation Service at that time was voluntary. In 2007, erosion control became mandatory and the ministry had to become a law enforcement agency.

Dellinger was named Lincoln County Employee of the Year in 2015, then two years later he was named department manager as Rick McSwain retired. Dellinger had indeed worked his way up from the lowest position in the department to the top.

“The ability to work with students and have an impact on their environmental education has probably been one of my most important accomplishments,” she said. “Thanks to my advice, I think the department has been able to promote itself, so that people know more about us and what we do. Our customer service has also been excellent.

Dellinger also helped make old aerial photographs accessible to the citizens of the county.

“I was able to work with the tax authorities to create a layer on GIS for the old antennas of the flights of 1938, 1951, 1956, 1970 and 1981,” she explains. “These historic antennas are used to do Phase 1 environmental assessments, property lines or old road designations, survey land before the lake, and so on. I focused on presentations for county commissioners, rotary clubs, chamber of commerce and other groups, which raised awareness among citizens about the Soil and Water Conservation District, the services we provide. and the district council.

Another goal of Dellinger was to organize an Earth Day event for the community. The first took place in April 2014 and now includes a shredding event and a drug drop-off operation. It has become very popular and citizens call every year to ask for the date of the shredded event.

The Dirt Lady, who admits she’ll never look at the ground or the water the same again, retires to be a “mi-mi” for her first grandson, Steele.

After 33 years, I can still say that I love my job, ”she said. “I love Lincoln County and am happy to have had the opportunity to serve the citizens. I am also grateful for the opportunity to work with Lincoln County teachers in providing environmental education programs to students. Due to COVID and restrictions, I have not been able to do in-person programs for schools in the past year. We looked for ways to continue educational programs and partnered with the library to do virtual farm tours for students. The tours are a behind-the-scenes expedition with an educational component. There is a link on the Soils and Water webpage for all the educational videos we have produced. It’s very humiliating to have young children come to you with their parents and say, “Hey Mrs. Patty” or it’s the “dirty lady” and give you a hug most of the time. “

Evan Crawley has been appointed retired director of Dellinger.


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