Pictured form left: Pam Bolen, Bradley Laslie, Kerstyn Dillon, Ashley Laslie, Jay Newton, Julie Newton, award recipient, AJ Newton and Alesha Newton.
The Hancock County Chamber of Commerce named Julie Newton as its 2021 Citizen of The Year at its annual dinner at the Hancock County Fairgrounds Monday evening.
Newton serves as the Audubon Area Community Services Coordinator for Hancock County, and helps the community in various other ways. “My first thought was, ‘they couldn’t find someone else,’” Newton said. “I am very thankful. I am very undeserving of this award.”
Newton grew up in Hancock County, the daughter of Mike and Marilyn McCaslin. She attended Immaculate Conception Church School until the eighth grade, and then went to high school at Hancock County High. She graduated from HCHS in 1995, and then got married to ay Newton, and their family grew to include four children.
“I was a stay at home mom for 10 years,” Newton said. “When the youngest one got into school I started as a preschool teacher at Rise and Shine Preschool. I taught there for 10 years.”
After Rise and Shine, she went to work for a subcontractor on the hydroelectric power plant at the Cannelton Locks and Dam. She served as a secretary for the company for two years. When the subcontractor’s work ended at the plant, the company went back to Michigan, but she landed the secretary job with a subcontractor to her previous employer.
“I worked for them for a little bit, and then I got the call from Audubon Area Community Services,” Newton said. “I have worked for Audubon Area for five years.”
As the coordinator for Audubon Area, Newton’s job is to discover the needs that exist in the county, and match various available programs to the needs. Newton says she loves to learn about the community and its needs and then finding ways to help.
“There is a lot of case management,” Newton said. “I get in with families and I can put them in touch with the various programs that exist.”
Newton said she works with several other agencies in the area, and if Audubon lacks a program or service to help a family, she puts the family in touch with the agency that has a program to help.
“I can point them in the right direction,” Newton said.
Audubon Area community Services offers a variety of programs to help people in need such as a weatherization program and LIHEAP, the low income heating assistance program. She also helps with the regular monthly food pantry, and looks for other ways to help the citizens of the county.
Audubon also offers an eyeglass program, helps people looking for work and anything else that helps families. Last year Newton discovered a program to distribute food to citizens of the county.
“It wasn’t just for low income people,” Newton said. “It was for everyone.”
She held seven such food giveaways last year, and four this year. At one food giveaway last year traffic stretched from the fairgrounds, out onto state Route 1389 to U.S. 60 and west on U.S. 60 for about a fifth of a mile. Traffic also backed up a short distance east on U.S. 60, and also a short distance west on state Route 1389 past the fairgrounds.
In addition to her work with Audubon Area Community Services, Newton serves on various boards, social service agencies and clubs. She works as a volunteer tax preparer each year, is vice-president of the Lewisport Lions Club, on the board of the local extension office, on the Hancock County Tourism Committee, and is a member of the Hancock County Health Coalition.
“Where I can learn more about the community and the people, that’s where I want to be,” Newton said.
Newton will soon add a new title to her name: grandmother. Her daughter Ashley and son-in-law Bradley are expecting a child.
“My first grandbaby is due October 1,” Newton said. “I am so excited.”
She and husband Jay have four children: Ashley Laslie, Arikah Newton, AJ Newton and Alesha Newton. She and husband Jay live off Oak Road between Lewisport and Hawesville.
Newton said she loves her job with Audubon, and the ability it allows to help others.
“I love Hancock County,” Newton said. “I get out and meet as many people as I can and learn their needs. My job encourages me to join/partner with everything possible in the county. This helps me learn what resources we have in Hancock County, and then I can utilize those resources for my families.”
By Ralph Dickerson