POUGHKEEPSIE — If you’re doing business in one of the county offices along Market Street in Poughkeepsie, chances are good that you’ll cross paths with CSEA member Melody Newton.
As a greeter in one of the county buildings and a former attendant in the main county parking lot, Newton is beloved by county workers and members of the public for her cheerful demeanor and positive attitude.
Newton’s co-workers nominated her to receive the Dutchess County Unit’s inaugural Doug Morrison Person of the Year Award, which honors the unit’s longtime labor relations specialist (LRS), who passed away in December 2021 after battling cancer.
Unit leaders created the award as a way to remember Morrison, who was known for his compassion for CSEA members and willingness to go the extra mile to help.
“I can’t think of a better person that represents all of Doug’s attributes,” said Dutchess County Unit President Andrew Calamari. “Melody is a dedicated, selfless, caring person that brightens everyone’s day who enters the county office building.”
When county officials heard about the honor, they joined in the celebration. As Calamari and fellow CSEA leaders presented Newton her award on a recent morning, Dutchess County Executive William F.X. O’Neil and County Clerk Bradford Kendall also feted Newton, with O’Neil delivering a proclamation deeming that day as Melody Newton Day in Dutchess County.
Much like Morrison was, Newton is a humble person who shies away from accolades, but she said she was touched by the award because of the person it honors.
In the roughly 15 years Morrison served as LRS for the Dutchess County Unit, Newton built a friendship with him as she was the first person Morrison would see as he arrived to do union business and the last person to wish him a good day as he left.
“Doug was just an amazing person, so it is just such an honor,” said Newton. “I wake up in the morning and want to help make people’s day. Being able to help people every day makes this more than a job to me. I’m not the type to be up front or in the spotlight, but this honor means a lot because Doug was so special to us in the county.”
— Jessica Ladlee