When Charlotte Allen first became the Town of Double Oak’s Secretary, accessing the internet required a dial-up modem, there were just a few police officers protecting the community and she worked with just one other person in the old town hall.
The times may have changed, but 14-years later Charlotte Allen still loves the job as much as she did on her first day.
Current town officials helped her celebrate her April 8 anniversary in style with a luncheon and, of course, a cake. But it was the large balloons brought to her by Mayor Mike Donnelly that really were a surprise.
“A lot of folks popped in and I got lots of emails which I’ve saved including some congratulating me from people I didn’t even know,” she said. “That was special.”
As Town Secretary since April 8, 2002, she’s had the pleasure of meeting most of them. If four of her five grandchildren didn’t live in Denton, she’d likely be living next to them. For, it’s those residents who are major reasons why she still enjoys what she does and where.
“I love it,” said Allen, 71, who replaced the previously-departed Dorothy McDaniel. “I love this town and I’ve gotten to know so many people here. I really enjoy working here. The people are special.”
The feeling definitely is mutual.
“She’s greatly appreciated and loved by all who know her and [she] is truly one of the most caring persons one could ever come across,” Donnelly said in an email commemorating her accomplishment.
“Everyone loves her and we all appreciate her,” he said. “She is very professional when it comes to her work and ensuring town records are kept and secure. She also has a softer side that loves to talk and she has been the Town Ambassador during her town career.”
While the town’s people remain as friendly as ever, their numbers have grown substantially since Allen started serving them. That growth has seen many changes at Town Hall; starting with the building itself, which opened less than three months after she started.
“When we moved here, there was so much more room,” she said. “Over the years we’ve added more police officers (seven, plus Chief Derrick Watson). We have a lady (Lynn Jones) who does our courts for us and Charlie (Wright) who does our public works for us. That’s because our town has expanded. So it’s changed quite a bit.
“There was a lot of open land back then. Not so much anymore.”
Fewer than 2,000 residents lived in the 2.5 square-mile town in 2002. Today it’s estimated to be more than 3,000.
“There are whole new subdivisions that have come in,” she said. “A lot of people who owned large parcels would come in and have them re-platted; so, instead of having one 10-acre parcel, you could have 10 one-acre buildable lots.
“I think more people have sort of found us. It’s a wonderful community. It really is. In my opinion it’s because it’s almost completely but not quite residential. And so you have neighbors and you have activities within the community. The people here know each other. And the kids go pretty much to the same schools. It has that small town feel to it.”
Among the biggest changes is the help she’s been given with additional staff, instead of having to handle nearly everything herself. Back in 2002, it was just Allen and Betty Easley, the assistant secretary– and everything else. Life’s much easier now; thanks in part to Eileen Kennedy, the current assistant town secretary.
Allen came to Double Oak with a wealth of experience in community government. The first taste for the Lewisville High School graduate was as a volunteer Town Secretary for Copper Canyon.
She later worked several years as the paid City Secretary in Denton, as an assistant to the planning director in Clear Creek County, Colo., and in the reproduction office back with Denton in 2000. In between she was an undergraduate advisor and student teaching coordinator at the University of North Texas College of Education and lived in California for a year.
Allen would not be in her current position had it not been for some nudging from daughter-in-law, Cherie. Her husband, David (Allen’s son), taught the children of several Double Oak leaders at Flower Mound Elementary School.
“He knew more people on the council then I did, because he taught their kids,” she said. “I didn’t know anyone here at the time.”
Even at age 71, Allen has no immediate plans to leave “unless the mayor decides to change the locks” though retirement is way in the back of her mind. She spends much of her free time with four of her grandchildren – Elise, age 17; Annie, 15; Ben 13; and Jillian, 12 who live in Denton. Her fifth, Madison, 8, lives in Utah.
Allen likes the fact that no two days are alike though she never thought in 2002 she’d still be in her current job.
“Every day brings its own rewards,” she said. “Rarely is there a day when someone doesn’t come to the window about something court-related. I’ve been fortunate with the people I’ve worked with here and the people in the community. They’ve just been lovely people.”
They’re also people who know Allen well enough to know one of her biggest quirks.
“I absolutely covet office supplies; and, people will give them to me,” she said.
Among her treasures are an array of unusual scotch tape dispensers, plus a box with a red button that when pushed simply says ‘that was easy,’ the longtime slogan of Staples, a place she frequents often.
“When people bring me ‘swag,’ it’s always office supplies,” she said. “It’s a standing joke.”
No joke, however, is Charlotte Allen’s dedication to the Town of Double Oak.