The Daily Southerner
ROCKY MOUNT —
For 39 years, Ola Pittman’s daily routine included something dealing with the Edgecombe County Planning Department. That routine changed Thursday when Pittman officially retired as county planning director. She received rave reviews for her tenure.
“She was one of the most dedicated employee that Edgecombe County ever had,” said Edgecombe County Manager Lorenzo Carmon. “We got some big shoes to fill. That is almost 40 years of knowledge walking out the door. More importantly, a person leaving who is truly committed to the improving the quality of life for Edgecombe County citizens. I hope that she enjoys retirement as much as he did working.”
Pittman was honored Friday with a retirement party where co-workers, family and her friends gathered to wish her well. One by one her guests hugged her and then posed with her for pictures taken by her husband, James Pittman. Ola soaked in the kind gestures as she appeared to be as happy as a kid on Christmas day.
“I appreciated everybody that came out,” she said with a big smile on her face. “I did not get emotional but my heart beat a little faster when I was standing up there with my manager (Lorenzo Carmon). I knew then that was it. I’m really retiring.”
Getting to this point was apparently hard for Pittman. She became eligible for retirement about 10 years ago. Her love for her job, as well as just simply helping people, kept her going.
“I have set my retirement four different times and this is the first time that I’ve gone through with it,” she said. “In 2005 when I interviewed Brian Hassell, I told him that within six months I would be retire. It didn’t happen.
“When you have a passion for something its hard to walk away from it. You have to know within your heart that it’s right. And everybody told me you would know when the time is right. They were right. It’s time for me to step back and give someone else the opportunity that was given to me.”
Pittman began her career as secretary of the department in January 1974. Back then, it wasn’t even in her wildest of dreams that she would one day retire as a county employee. Apparently the job grew on her. She was soon promoted to technican. She continued to climb the ladder and was promoted to planner, then senior planner and then the top when she was hired as the director in 2001. Through those years, Pittman’s proudest accomplishments were rehabbing or building new homes for the disadvantaged. She said the county has rehabbed well over 200 houses and, in the last four years, built 11 new houses — all with grant funding.
“The ribbon cuttings for so many houses in the county for elderly residents who needed housing assistant was definitely the highlight of my career,” she said.
Other successes Pittman mentioned were the near completion of the county-wide water system, approval of the unified development ordinance, the approval of the comprehensive transportation plan and the adoption of the new county flood map.
Although she packed her bags on Thursday, Pittman didn’t completely close the door on her career. She told her co-workers, in and out of her office, to call her if they needed assistance.
“I’m going to make myself available for the county if they should need me,” she said. “I’m not going to totally go away. I’m not going to vanish.”
In her newfound spare time, Pittman has already made plans
“I’m not really retiring,” she said. “I’m just moving from one full-time position to beefing up my hobby, decorations. I want to get more into decorations and put a lttile more time in my admistrative church work at St. Luke in Leggett.
“I appreciate the opportunity over the years. It has been an awesome opportunity for me, to grow not only professionally but personally as well.”