After a 45-year career with North Central Telephone Cooperative (NCTC), Corporate Communications Manager Brenda Hiett is retiring with a wealth of memories, a second home and an extended family, making her departure from the cooperative a bittersweet goodbye.Hired in February of 1963, Brenda has seen many changes and worn many hats during her career and leaves North Central with a mixture of emotions; both excited and saddened to leave.
Beginning in the bookkeeping department, Brenda worked very closely with field accountants from the Rural Electrification Administration (REA), a federal agency created in 1935 to administer loan programs for electrification and telephone service in rural areas.
Transferred to the plant accounting position at NCTC, Brenda began learning more about the cooperative and was responsible for manually keeping accounts both inside and outside of the plant, as computers were not available at the time.
During that time, Brenda also collected bill payments in the commercial department, took customer requests for phone service, the only service offered then, took trouble calls and dispatched trouble to servicemen and worked as a payroll clerk prior to moving back into the bookkeeping department as the coop’s accountant.
When NCTC president and CEO Tom Rowland began his career at North Central in 1984, he asked Brenda to move to the commercial department as Commercial Manager, where she also assumed marketing/public relations duties, and Brenda remained in that capacity for over 20 years.
Working closely with a Nashville firm, Chaz Taylor Communications Strategists, Brenda helped to produce the publications customers rebills, annual reports, quarterly magazine, coop publications, press releases, newspaper advertisements, radio copy and public correspondences and was given the title ‘Corporate Communications Manager’ in 2002.
Needless to say, Brenda has seen great change in the telecommunication industry during her tenure at North Central including the conversion of party lines to private lines in 1977, the construction of NCTC’s new headquarters building on the Hwy 52 By-Pass, the initiation of the Will Hall Sullivan Community Service Award in 1986 and introduction in 1993, the launch of fiber optic cable in the NCTC service area in 1987, the first television service offered by North Central in 1988, the introduction of cellular service in 1990, the addition of DSL Internet service in June of 2000 and the birth of North Central Security Services in January of 2000.
“I have been so very fortunate and privileged to have been able to remain with one employer for this many years,” Brenda said. “It has been an honor for me to work at North Central and I can truly say that I have enjoyed my work. Many people are not as fortunate in this respect as I have been. I believe anyone here would tell you that I have worked hard and was not absent from my job any more than necessary.”
Brenda has lived her entire life in Macon County and was raised on a farm with her seven siblings, Brownie Barton, Bertha Hauskins, Carolyn Anderson, Becky Yancey and Charles, Terry and Clarence Austin.
“My wonderful parents and, J.C. and Thelma Austin, and doting grandmother, Mattie Tucker, instilled in all of us a strong work ethic and moral responsibility early in life,” she said. “We were taught how to treat our fellow man, how to face life’s challenges and to accept the things we cannot change.”
Brenda is the mother of two children, Barry Hiett, who lives in Huntsville, Ala., and Beth Smith of Lafayette, and is the grandmother of Ashlyn and Breia, who she refers to as “the light of our lives.”
Besides her career at North Central, Brenda serves on the Advisory Counsel of the Hartsville Technology Center, is a Chairperson on the Upper Cumberland Tourism Association Board of Directors, serves as secretary of the Macon County Senior Citizens Board of Directors, is a member of the Macon County Health Council, is a member of the annual Jett Williams Concert committee, serves on the Advisory Board of the Macon County UCHRA, is a member of the Macon County Three Star Recertification Committee, Existing Industry Committee, Beautification Committee and Arts Council, served as president of the Macon County Chamber of Commerce in 2001, was given the title of Ms. Senior Macon County in 2003 and served as president of the Lafayette Rotary Club in 2003-2004, where she was awarded the President of the Year of District 6780.
Involved in so many facets of the community, Brenda has become the face of North Central over the years.
“Brenda has been a tremendous asset to North Central,” Rowland said “and a connection to the community we serve. She’s been out front and has made our presence felt. We certainly appreciate everything she’s done and we’re going to miss her. We wish her the best of luck in her future retirement and in all of her future plans.”
Looking forward to the next chapter of her life, Brenda is grateful for a career she has enjoyed for the past 45 years.
“My sincerest thanks to everyone that I have come in contact with during these 45 years and for letting me assist you in whatever capacity it may have been,” Brenda said. “I will miss my association with you, and the people I have worked with, but I know my family will be glad to have me around more. I am looking forward to the change n my life – the many liberties of being retired and the new life that awaits me. I will not be as tied to a specific timeframe, I will be able to plan more activities with my granddaughters, have more time to do some things I have never found the time to do and the privilege to enjoy a newfound freedom with good health, God willing. Again, thank you from the bottom of my heart for your support and friendship over the years.”