By Nicholette Carlson
MENTONE — A natural planner, Michelle Puckett is typically thinking ahead to what needs to be done and what is coming next, whether it be with her career, children or personal life.
Recently she and her husband, Jeff, purchased an old KABS bus, which they are converting into a camper. A couple of years ago he retired after 20 years as a full-time firefighter with the Warsaw-Wayne Fire Territory. This camper conversion has kept him busy during both retirement and COVID-19. Puckett is hoping the camper will be completed by the end of October as she plans their trip to Michigan for a trial run.
They both prefer colder weather and campfires, which has led them on four trips to Alaska so far and many more planned for the future. Since it was Jeff’s dream to visit Alaska one day, the couple went on a cruise there for their 15-year wedding anniversary. They have now been married 24 years. As part of a Bible camp, he has also gone up and done missionary work in Alaska. She hopes to make it up there every other year.
She and her husband have four children: Zachary, Joshua, Brice and Emily. One of Puckett’s greatest joys is seeing her children follow their dreams and where it has led them.
As Kosciusko County auditor, Puckett is always looking at least a year ahead. She began working in the auditor’s office part-time in 1999 and took over as auditor in 2015. Born and raised in Warsaw, she graduated from Warsaw High School and immediately took the career path which eventually led her to her current role. “It’s definitely where my passion is and where my niche has been,” she commented.
During the shutdown, Puckett continued to come into the office to work every day. “It’s not what any of us signed up for,” she admitted. “But we’re doing what needs to be done.”
After living in Warsaw for the majority of her life, she and her husband built a small house out in the country near Mentone five years ago. “I enjoy my 15 minute drive to decompress from the day,” she mentioned.
In her free time, Puckett enjoys crafts. Whether it’s sewing and crocheting blankets, making pumpkins or putting together gnomes, she always has some craft to work on. Three years ago she also tried her hand at woodworking. Her father lives in the small town of Converse, which has a wood carvers club. She and her husband visited and immediately took to the hobby. “We like to sit on the back porch and whittle and carve and use it to relax,” she stated.
She and her husband are also putting together furniture for their camper. If they don’t have any projects to work on for themselves, they’ll create items others may need and give them away.
She also enjoys cooking and baking, especially during the holiday season. One of her specialties is her spicy cheese balls, made from her grandmother’s special recipe.
Puckett’s term as auditor will end Dec. 31, 2022. Knowing it was approaching, she originally stressed about what she might do afterward. A year ago, though, she explained she had a “God moment,” where she was reminded he is in control and will take care of things. “God has opened every single door for me,” she emphasized. “And he will open another one.”
Now she is excited about the prospects going forward and the chance to focus on herself.