When it comes to community support, Hope resident Debbie Hatton says area residents have certainly rallied and helped her to adjust to a new normal following her husband’s death this past summer.

Since Ron’s passing in August, Hatton says she is understandably still adjusting.

“Everything seems to be going really well,” she says. “It’s a learning curve.”

Hatton married Ron in 1974 and the couple moved into a trailer at Tannehill Trailer Park in Taylorsville. It wasn’t too long after the couple moved in that a late-season tornado roared through in January 1975 leaving Hatton anxious to find another place to live.

“I told Ron, ‘If you don’t find us another place, I will,’” she recalls.

The couple found a quaint home nestled in the heart of the Hope community in May 1975.

It’s been home ever since.

Having grown up in Waymansville, located just south-west of Columbus, Hatton was accustomed to small-town life. Moving to Hope felt like coming home.

“I’ve always had a good feeling about Hope and the people in the community,” Hatton says. “They’re close knit.”

Hatton’s husband, Ron, was a school bus driver for Flat Rock/Hawcreek School Corporation for more than 30 years. He also served as a Hawcreek Township Trustee, a role that Hatton would later assume.

In the weeks following Ron’s death, Hatton took the oath to complete what remained on her husband’s term.

Hatton says she was already familiar with the ins and outs of his role and dealing with the public. However, it is the other side of things, the nuts and bolts of the position, that she is still learning, she says.

When she made the decision to take over what remained of Ron’s term, she didn’t realize it was for 27 months. Although surprised, Hatton says the time will offer her ample time to learn the position and decide if she wants to run for re-election down the road.
In the mean time, Hatton says she is taking things day by day.

Long-time friend and co-worker, Shirley Robertson says Hatton has always been someone “you can trust and talk with.”

Robertson knew Ron for years and has remained close with the family, she says. So, when the time came for the community to rally around the family there was no hesitation whatsoever, she says.

Hatton says she has been truly touched by the outpouring of kindness and support from everyone.

“I was really touched,” she says. “I would go home and be exhausted from all the talking I had done. Everyone has been so kind and loving and supportive of me and my decision to fulfill his term in the township office.”

As Hatton looks forward to celebrating 25 years in her position with Hope Utilities, she says she loves her job and aside from it keeping her busy, it gives her the chance to be around people.

It is that same sense of community and support that defines and makes Hope special, Robertson says.

“I think it was one of those things that it is hard to describe because so many people were involved,” Robertson says. “I just think it is happens to so many people and in so many different ways most of us don’t think of it as unusual. It is part of the fabric of the town of people knowing who one another are and what their needs are.”

When Hatton finds spare time, it is likely one would find her with paint brush in hand.

“I paint rocks,” she says.

A fan of the whimsical, Hatton paints rocks with bright colors and adorns them with inspirational messages or blessings. Many are hidden out and around the area, others may be sold, she says.

There have also been some instances where Hatton has been commissioned to create one-of-a-kind pieces on demand, she says.

Hatton says her adventures in painting over the years have meandered through working with various mediums, such as oil, watercolor and acrylics. If you ask her preference, Hatton prefers to work with acrylics, she says.

The self-proclaimed cloud watcher and art lover says it doesn’t matter what the finished piece looks like as long as you paint from the heart and for the love of painting.

“Sometimes that love comes through on a rock,” Hatton says. “I have a great appreciation for art, beauty and nature.”

There is one thing that does stand out about Hatton’s rocks, which have ended up as far away as Myrtle Beach in South Carolina -- They’re never signed.

“The only thing I put on the back of them are blessings,” Hatton says. “To me, it’s not important who painted it. Only that it made you smile.”