Faith Holt
of Navarro County, Texas


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Precinct 2 Commissioner Faith Holt, right, talks with her crew foreman Ricky Pate about ongoing work. Holt took over as commissioner in early May, filling the spot created by the death of Olin Nickelberry in April. She is the first black female to hold a county commissioner seat in Navarro County.
Daily Sun photo/STEPHEN FARRIS

 

6/5/2005 Out of the Blue ...



By LOYD COOK Daily Sun Staff

A month ago Faith Holt was a captain in the Navarro County Sheriff’s Office and the top officer in charge of the county jail, spending her days locked inside away from the public while she tended the administrative aspects of managing up to 200 or so inmates each day.

Fast forward to early June.

It’s blue skies.

Blazing heat.

Dusty back roads.

And they’re all hers.

Since a May 16 appointment wrenched Holt from her normal life as a law enforcement officer, Holt has spent her days as the newest county commissioner. One of the top officials here, she represents Precinct 2 in the eastern portion of the county.

She continues to serve.

“It’s really different though,” Holt said this week. “Used to, I’d have to get the officers to open the sally port (a locked entrance to the jail) just to see what the weather was like.

“No windows, no way to really feel what time it was ... it was different.”

Holt had spent more than 21 years in law enforcement with the sheriff’s office. She still continues in county service and will celebrate her 22nd anniversary in September.

She was the first black woman in Navarro County to be certified as a police officer.

Holt is now the first black woman to serve as a county commissioner, the top administrative office in the area except for county judge.

But it’s the people that’s making the difference in making the switch in her estimation. And it’s the people she wants to make an impression on.

“It’s been great, I like the change, and I like meeting the people,” she said. “I want to get where I know 90 percent of the people in Precinct 2 and have them recognize me in the street or at the store, recognize my truck if I pull up in their driveway out in the county.”

To make those familiar greetings be pleasant ones, Holt knows that she has to do the job. That means one thing for a county commissioner.
Taking care of the roads.

That’s her chief occupation now. And she knows she has a learning curve to progress through. Riding herd on a group of prisoners is different than making sure the surface of a particular county road meets the standards its inhabitants want.

“I’m learning something new everyday,” Holt said. “The guys (at the precinct barn) have been great. Real nice guys. Anything I want to know, they help me.”

She praised her foreman, Ricky Pate of Kerens, for his knowledge and his willingness to work with the new kid on the block.

Holt said her workers are her No. 1 priority because without them, keeping the roads in good condition can’t get on a goals list.

Her lack of knowledge can lead to some humorous moments.

“Ricky was taking me across a bridge the other day and a board broke,” she said. “I said ‘Oh no, I can’t swim.’ Ricky just laughed and said we’d be dead from the fall first.”

But she learned a basic. That board that broke is called a “runner.”

“I was talking to my mom later and told her a runner broke, then said something about some milling (a road material) and she just laughed,” Holt smiled. “She said ‘you’re starting to sound like a big-time county commissioner.’”

Holt said she found out where the blade on maintainer is and she’s starting to be able to figure out what size a culvert is just by looking at it.

She graduated from “old Corsicana High” — now Drane Intermediate — in 1970, the last class to do so from that building before the Class of ’71 matriculated as the first from the present high school.

Holt has two daughters, Vernita Brookins of Corsicana and Veronica Butler of Irving. She has a granddaughter, Mandi Brookins. Holt is the daughter of Mabel and Bob Scott, owners of Scott Funeral Home.

She was born in Dallas, but her parents moved to Corsicana long before her first birthday and she’s lived here ever since.

Holt, no longer at the jail, has joined the sheriff’s reserves. That’s so she can keep that milestone law enforcement certification intact.

“Lord, I worked too hard for that to just let it go,” she said.

As her days go by, Holt’s beginning to distance herself from her days in the jail. But an occasional issue or two comes up, a duty that only she did at the jail perhaps as officers there learn just how much of the day-to-day administrative duties she handled.

On those occasions, Holt steps across the street from the courthouse and shows them how it’s done. She’s even trying to make sure to train at least two people on whatever it is she’s showing them, just to make sure things continue to run smoothly.

But she’s not going to spend all of her time indoors any more.

“I’ll return calls, and I’m trying to do it within one business day,” she said. “But I’m going to be spending at least
70 percent of my time out of the office looking at the roads and taking care of business.

“See. I’ve even got this little hat to keep the sun off my face since I’ve spent so much time inside.”

Now that she’s escaped, there’s no stopping her now.

—————

Loyd Cook may be contacted via e-mail at loydcook@corsicanadailysun.com
 

Originally published in the Corsicana Daily Sun
June 5, 2005

Reprinted with permission of the Corsicana Daily Sun
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