Tenured Employees Recognized for Service to City of Kannapolis > City of Kannapolis | City of Kannapolis

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Five long-time employees of the City of Kannapolis are retiring in the month of July. Jeannie Childers, John Hatley, Shane Pethel, Sonya Furr, and Brenda Lewis, have each played an important role within the City’s organization over the years. Join us in celebrating their careers and acknowledging their dedication to the City of Kannapolis. 

Jeannie ChildresJeannie Childers has worked for the City of Kannapolis for 39 years in the Customer Service Department. She is the longest serving employee in the City. Before she was hired by the City she worked in the Kannapolis Sanitary District Office for 17 years. The district would later become the City’s water and sewer department when the City incorporated 40 years ago in 1984. Thus, Jeannie has been working for the residents of Kannapolis for 56 years.

“When I started in 1968, we had 168 water customers, and all the bills were generated by hand on a typewriter. All the billing, collections and meter reading functions operated out of a small house on Floyd Street. Eventually, when we had 5,000 customers, we used an old addressing machine from Cannon Mills to generate bills and now everything is automated through databases on computers,” she recently recalled. Over the years Jeannie has done a variety of jobs including billing, customer service, banking, many software conversions, and helped establish the stormwater program.

“The City has given me many opportunities over the years. I have worked with every mayor and city manager in our 40-year-old history as a City. Every one of them only wanted the best for the City and its residents. I value every friendship and relationship I have with coworkers and residents, and I will miss them,” she said.

She is looking forward to caring for her flower garden, traveling to see family in Colorado and time with her daughter, grandson and two great granddaughters. She is also active in her church, First Evangelical Methodist Church and the Kannapolis Pilot Club.

John HatleyJohn Hatley has been with the Kannapolis Fire Department for 24 years. He has transitioned up the ranks to serve as Captain. He began his career as a firefighter in Salisbury. He joined the City of Kannapolis in 2000 and has been primarily based at Fire Station 2 and 4. “I have always enjoyed helping and serving people. People do not call the fire department on a good day. They are calling us on one of their worst days and I have always liked knowing that I was helping someone on a bad day” John said.

He is looking forward to new adventures in his retirement with his wife, children and grandchildren. Church membership, travel, his garden and chickens will keep him busy.

Shane PathelShane Pethel – The City’s first Fire Marshal, he has 24 years of full-time service and 13 volunteer/part-time years of service with the City. With a total of 37 years of continuous service he is well-known by everyone in the City.

Shane joined the City as a volunteer firefighter in 1987. He became a part-time fire inspector in 1996 and full-time as the fire inspector in 2000. Eventually, he was promoted to the City’s first fire marshal position in 2020.

With his positive upbeat personality, he and a coworker, Mark Lee founded a clown troupe, the Bucket Brigade, which taught educational fire safety lessons to the children of Kannapolis. Shane was Deputy Blaze and Lee was Fire Marshal Flash. They secured a grant from the Cannon Foundation to attend professional clown school to ensure they were the perfect fire teacher clowns.

“Every day is a different challenge and I love it. By working in the inspections department and as Fire Marshal I have been in every square inch of new construction built in the City since 2000. I have enjoyed meeting the people who are moving here, the developers and owners of new houses and buildings. As a native of Kannapolis, it has been amazing to see how the City is growing and progressing,” Shane commented. “It is time for me to stop chasing the dollar and chase a grandchild. After surviving my heart attack in 2018 I have wanted to slow down and enjoy time with my wife, children and grandchildren, but I will miss my coworkers.” He is active on the council at his church, St. Johns Reformed and plans to work part-time to stay active.

Sonya FurrSonya Furr has worked for the Kannapolis Police Department for 29 years. In 1995 Sonya began her career with the Kannapolis Police Department as a telecommunicator, eventually being promoted as the first telecommunicator shift supervisor. Sonya moved to the Records Division in 2014, where she later became a supervisor.

She has completed over 1,351 hours of professional training and has been the recipient of several commendations during her time with the Kannapolis Police Department. In 2004, Sonya was the recipient of the Norma C. Howard Memorial Service Award, an award that is presented to a civilian police department employee who conducts both their personal and professional lives in a manner that is consistent with the department’s values and code of ethics. She has also received Unit Commendations in May 2010 and August 2013. Most recently, Sonya was awarded the Leadership Award, presented to the police department employee who best displays the leadership traits that help to further the mission of the department.

“I can’t believe how much time has already passed and the countdown to retirement is already here. I have seen how much the city has grown and changed from starting in 911 telecommunications and working in the old funeral home (which was the former Police Department), to now moving into the new city building and everything being built around us. I am thankful for all the knowledge and friendships that I have acquired over the years. I will miss a lot of my coworkers and people who I see on a frequent basis. I am excited for the future and the time I will get to travel and spend with my family,” Sonya said.

In her retirement, Sonya is looking forward to traveling and spending time with her family, especially her grandson, Mason.

Brenda LewisDr. Brenda Lewis has worked in the Human Resources Department as a Human Resources Technician. Many of you may know her because she is the person who greets you if you visit City Hall or answers your phone call.

A native of Rowan County, Brenda joined the City 13 years ago after working for Livingstone College, the Rowan County Clerk’s Office and serving in ministries in New York. She has a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts in theology from Life Christian University and most recently received her Doctor of Christian Education degree from Grace Biblical Institute and Seminary.

“My job has been most satisfying when I could put a smile on someone’s face after I helped them. I will miss the people I meet every day and my coworkers,” she said. ”It is time to move on to my next chapter which is time to do what God wants me to do.” She is active in her church, Smith Chapel Apostolic, where she is Director of Christian Education, leads Bible study and oversees the Prayer and Worship Team. Brenda will also be busy continuing her mission and community work, travel and family time.