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Honesty is still the best policy, at least for one employee in the Orangeburg County Tax Assessor's office.

Holly Hill resident Kim Coker has been an appraiser in the tax assessor's office for the past seven years. Part of her job includes reassessing county property every five years.

The program is required to ensure all property in the county is taxed at a fair market value and that everyone is paying their fair share of taxes. While reassessing a county resident's property two years ago, Coker demonstrated her display of fairness after stumbling across $80 left in the woman's yard.

After "doing her job first," Coker said she knocked on the woman's door and then kindly returned the $80 after telling the woman about her official business.

It is Coker's continued adherence to fairness and uprightness of character and action that has earned her designation as the exemplification of honesty for the month of January as part of Orangeburg County's Community of Character Initiative.

"I think it's great, especially since I was nominated by my boss (Orangeburg County Tax Assessor Marion Lloyd). He's a great guy," Coker said.

Would she do the same thing all over again if she stumbled across another wad of cash?

"Definitely. I wouldn't even think twice about it. I didn't think twice about it then. The lady told me, 'I must have dropped the money when I came home from work.'" Coker said.

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Coker said places a high value on honesty and tries to instill the same respect for the trait in her sons, Joseph, 13, and Phillip, 16, and her 19-year-old stepson, Anthony. Her husband, Gerald, follows her lead.

"He's the same way," Coker said. "He and I just try and let the boys know to keep honesty first. It's very important.

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"I just always try to teach them that … because if you're honest with yourself and with other people around you, you can get through anything."

Her late mother, Jean, was an influential figure in Coker's life. The young woman said her mother worked to instill character, particularly the trait of being honest, in her and her two brothers' lives.

Her co-workers in the tax assessor's office are also a complement to Coker's continued mission to fulfill her professional and family life with integrity.

"All of my co-workers are good, honest people, and so it's easy to be that way. That's just how we do business," she said.

T&D Staff Writer Dionne Gleaton can be reached by e-mail at dgleaton@timesanddemocrat.com or by calling 533-5534.

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