Two weeks ago Lancaster County said its farewells to a longtime employee whom local officials praised for her loyalty and dedication.
On Jan. 31, Zina Middleton was presented a Plaque of Appreciation by the board of supervisors for her 12 years of service as administrative assistant and deputy clerk to the county.
District 1 Supervisor and Chairman F.W. “Butch” Jenkins called the presentation on “sweet and sad” as he expressed gratitude for the former deputy clerk on behalf of the board.
“[Middleton] has done as much for this board over the last 12 years as certainly any of us here have done,” Jenkins said before thanking her for “her long service to the county, her dedicated work and the excellence of her performance.”
Middleton, who was present to receive the plaque, said she was grateful to the board for their admiration.
“It’s been a pleasure working with the county for the past 12 years,” replied Middleton. “I thank you.”
Middleton and her husband first moved to Lancaster County 16 years ago, where she was originally employed in the school system.
However, she called herself “fortunate enough” when the position for the county’s administrative assistant came open.
“[Former County Administrator Bill Pennell]
gave me an opportunity to work for local government and actually I loved it,” said Middleton in a recent interview.
Through her work for the county, Middleton came to meet and know its citizens through greeting them at the door and over the phone.
Furthermore, she learned the inner-workings of local legislation, how ordinances were passed and the steps for preparing and presenting resolutions.
“As a public servant you learn how the budget works…it was interesting,” she added with a chuckle.
In looking back at her extensive career, a recent memory stood out among the rest: the completion of the Lancaster County Judicial Center.
“The entire process from the groundbreaking ceremony to the ribbon-cutting was all really amazing to actually be a part of and witness,” said Middleton.
“I know that when Mr. Pennell was there, that was one of his last major things that he worked on and was accomplished,” she added. “Working with him and everybody else there at the county…was a great moment.”
She also appreciated getting to know “so many great board members” who came and went throughout her tenure.
“I walk away with a lot of great memories,” she said.
Middleton is now working as a deputy city clerk for the City of Newport News. She took the job as a part of her and her husband’s intent to move to the Hampton Roads area.
When asked about her hopes and expectations for her new job, Middleton replied: “I actually love being a public servant and look forward to being able to assist the citizens as they come in.”
Middleton’s tone changed to one of excitement as she added that she was looking forward to her first city council meeting next week.
Lancaster’s County Administrator Frank Pleva, who had officially worked with Middleton since Sept. 1, 2011, said she had been a very loyal and supportive employee.
“She always had an extremely positive attitude which I think is important in our work environment,” he said. “She had a good rapport with employees.”
Although Pleva said that saying someone would be “sorely missed” was a commonly used phrase, he meant it in Middleton’s case.
“To lose that knowledge would be a big loss to any boss or employer,” Pleva said. “Our loss is Newport News’ gain.”
Middleton called it an honor to have worked for Lancaster County as a public servant.
“[I worked] in an office where you know everybody and you become part of a bigger family,” said Middleton. “It’s just been great working with everyone and the citizens.”