A former longtime day care director was honored last week as Dawson County officials dedicated the election office’s new home in her name.
Leila Chappell was the guest of honor at the Feb. 19 dedication of the Chappell Building on Academy Avenue.
The building was formerly used as a county-run day care, which Chappell oversaw.
Nearly 50 people gathered outside the facility for the ceremony, during which county officials removed a tarp to reveal the facility’s new name.
It was a shock to Chappell.
“I was very surprised, and I was honored,” she said later. “I can leave this world now feeling my grandchildren can go by there and know that their grandmama worked there for 30 years.”
County officials congratulated Chappell for the honor and welcomed her to take part in the ribbon cutting.
Kevin Tanner, county manager, gave the crowd a brief glimpse at Chappell’s work history with the county.
“Mrs. Chappell is legendary among the young people in Dawson County,” Tanner said.
Chappell worked for seven years as a kindergarten teacher with Head Start. She later became director of the county-run day care center, a position she held for 32 years.
Joe Lane Cox, who was Dawson County’s sole commissioner at the time, secured a grant to acquire the building that now bears Chappell’s name.
“Many people in Dawson County came up through their younger grades with Mrs. Chappell,” Tanner said. “She touched a lot of lives here and a lot of people are better people because of the work she did.”
Chappell said the work was always a pleasure.
“Those were the happiest days of my life,” she said. “I’ve always loved children, and I enjoyed working with them. They were my babies.”
Her 30-plus years in the building that is now the election office were well spent, she said.
“I’ve got a lot of memories there, and I’m glad the board of elections inherited a good building.”
Mike Berg, Dawson County commission chairman, said the building is “a fine facility.”
“It’s a credit to the folks who worked on it to improve it so that the elections board could get in there and serve the citizens.”
The former election office on Memory Lane was vacated in January after the U.S. Department of Justice approved the county’s request to combine precincts.