Hearts for Service - Ellen Foote

Monday, June 12, 2017 9:00 am

Holland Doran
AAC Communications Coordinator

Serving the people of Crittenden County is in Ellen Steele Foote’s blood. She has been the Crittenden County tax collector for the past 18 years and has worked in the county clerk’s office for 10 — a total of 28 years dedicated to county government.

Foote has lived in Crittenden County all of her life — in both West Memphis and Marion. She graduated from Marion High School and attended Arkansas State University.

She and her husband, McVey Foote, have been together for 17 years. They have a 12-year-old daughter, Claudia, who is named after Foote’s father, Claude Steele, a former justice of the peace in the county. She loves her “big babies” Smokey and Lulu, two Great Pyrenees that are “spoiled rotten.”

Foote is president of the Arkansas Tax Collectors Association, but her service does not stop at tax collector. She is the treasurer at her daughter’s school, a member of the Trinity In The Fields Anglican Church and serves on its board. She and her husband coach their daughter’s basketball team, and she has served as treasurer for the Marion Chamber of Commerce for 18 years.

Foote jokingly explained that it was inevitable that she was named treasurer because she is also the tax collector for the county. This unofficial tradition began with the late Melton Holt who served as both tax collector and treasurer.

However, Foote doesn’t see these roles as hardships. They are a part of public service that she loves.

“I love being in county government and helping all the people of this county,” she said.

With all the experience she has amassed, Foote has several pieces of wisdom for those interested in government work.

“You have to have a servant’s heart and realize that you’re here to help people,” she said. “It’s not easily done because you have laws to follow, and sometimes residents don’t like our answers. So, you have to have a tough skin.”

There’s always something evolving in county government, especially as technology is slowly changing how county government operates. Foote is living some of these changes right now.

“Crittenden County is trying to be more technology focused,” she said. “We are doing everything we can to help people pay their taxes, whether that’s online, phone or through applications. We have new software now that we didn’t have in the past. We’re evolving with the times.”

There are challenges to her job, which keeps things interesting every day.

“There’s always some new law that’s getting passed ... we’re always adding to our toolbox to make our jobs more efficient and streamlined,” she said.

Now that the 2017 Legislative Session is over, Foote and Crittenden County are pleased to see a change in how mineral-producing counties will publish their minerals.

“Counties can now publish their minerals online,” she explained. “This is going to save counties a lot of money in publications costs. This was the biggest bill that we hoped to see get passed.”

When she’s not at work, she’s busy doing things for and with her family. They enjoy going to movies and watching and playing sports. Her daughter finished basketball and is now starting softball, which will keep the family busy.

She also loves to travel to New Orleans, where she and her husband are members of The Krewe of Tucks. They also love to visit Petit Jean Mountain, Hot Springs and beaches. But her favorite destination is Little Rock, where her brother, Kevin, and his family live.

Where does Foote see herself in 20 to 30 years?

“We hope to be retired somewhere in New Orleans or the beach,” she said. “However, it’s probably more accurate to say we’ll be near our daughter.”

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