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Friday, May 29, 2015

No gold watch when I retire, thank you


I have been our township clerk twelve years come next March. The March I intended to retire from my last term, travel, see friends and relatives, even some world, and definitely spend my children’s inheritance on myself. Then six months into that four year term, grandchildren were living here. No amount of planning on my part will reinvent the last decade of my life; the children are here to stay and I will keep on working.

The first day I started this job, April 1st, 2004, the township solicitor stopped at the office to tell me his job was to make us look good—the trustees and me. Our jobs are defined by law; our responsibilities are outlined in the pages of Ohio Revised Code. Ed, our solicitor, has devoted his career to township law.

That day he wanted me to know how he feels about townships; the purest form of government, he told me. We are elected by the people to do the business of their township: repair the roads, plow the roads, mow the ditches, mow the cemetery grass, enforce zoning regulations, provide police, fire and emergency services.

Townships exist throughout much of the first west; the immediate post Revolutionary War lands that were not under a form of state government. The Northwest Ordinance of 1797 was “an ordinance for the government of the territory northwest of the Ohio River,” and covered what would be Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin and some of Minnesota. It divided the land into rectangles (townships), set aside public grazing areas, set aside some lots of each township to be sold to pay for schools. Rather ingenious.

Ed’s enthusiasm was contagious and I’ve grown even more fond of townships than when we first moved here and found it’s de rigueur to wave at the road crew and the police, as well as your neighbors. 

To be elected to an office one must secure petition forms from the Board of Elections and go door to door collecting enough signatures of registered voters to be placed on the November general election ballot for the office in question.

I’ve canvassed three times, and wondered how I’d get through a fourth, walking up drives, climbing steps, and reversing the process. I’d be such a haggard figure by the second door I’d be done for the day and it would take me six months to collect my signatures. I do have a plan B, and asked the trustee who also will be on the ballot this fall if he would collect my signatures, too. He agreed readily.

Last week I spent one long day at a seminar, sitting on uncomfortable chairs, moving among one hour sessions, learning the most current ways of safeguarding the people’s monies and simultaneously fulfilling my requirement to complete six hours of continuing education per term. At the township’s board meeting I highlighted some items of note and also said that was my six hour requirement for my current term ending March 31st. I will be slipping out the door at the end of my next four year term before anyone notices I do not have another six hours under my belt.

After the meeting the other two trustees offered to circulate my petitions, too.  The next four years of school lunches, school fees and school clothes seem to be covered.  How lucky can one fiscal officer get, short of running unopposed, or being on a plane to visit my cousin in Texas or my BFF in South Carolina or Ann in Wisconsin.


Credit for this goes to the Akron Beacon Journal, accompanying an article done about the township, probably in 2006. The fire department moved to a new facility, the road department moved into the fire department garage (twice the space) and administration moved into the road department. It must have been winter in the ill heated garage; note the sweaters on all except the trustee who turns heat down and air up. That's Ed on my right. We still sit in the same relative positions; the garage was renovated into the township offices.

25 comments:

  1. Bless you, Joanne, for continuing to stay in government all those years (and more to come). That is so much responsibility and I know your township's citizens have to be grateful for your excellent service.

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  2. Our lives take strange turns. The waving habit is nice. People in Maryland and Illinois did that. I moved to Jacksonville and waved to the neighbors when Favorite Young Man and I were out in the car. I said, They don't wave back. They just stare. He said, That's because people don't do that here.

    Your township is fortunate to have you. Your grandchildren are fortunate to have you.

    Love,
    Janie

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  3. Echoing Janie Junebug. Your town, your grandchildren, and your readers are lucky to have you.
    The elected position is rare here. Pretty much politicians only. Other positions needing to be elected is an alien concept.

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  4. I think it's interesting, seeing this form of elemental, very American basic democracy at work. It's worth a book from you, if you can. Mostly we ('Americans') feel disconnected at best to our governing bodies. Town meetings in the NorthEast, your township in your area, is another of the ways we still keep up the base idea.

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  5. Your grandchildren are indeed lucky to have you and so is the township!

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  6. I certainly understand wanting to retire. I planned on mine too. At least the reasons you were unable to do so is loving you in return.

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  7. Can you stand outside a store to collect signatures or do you have to go door to door? I'd be tempted if you could stand outside stores to bring a chair; might be more comfortable. You are doing a wonderful thing to provide a loving family for your grand daughters. Retirement would have been nice then, but what an opportunity to help them and guide them and hope they listen to the wisdom you can impart upon them.

    betty

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    1. The signatures must be registered voters of my township, which has only a tiny hardware store. Once I thought I could stand in the library and ask for signatures, but the library serves several communities and that was a waste of half a Saturday. Better just bite the bullet and drive from house to house.

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  8. I would certainly vote for you!

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  9. You are an amazingly strong and loving woman Joanne, not to mention being a tremendous role model.

    For your grand daughters as well. =)

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  10. Your interesting post moved me to say Joanne that you must be very good at your job and have earned the love and respect of your colleagues and also the townsfolk. Also they have seen your efforts with your grandchildren - an altogether exemplary life which deserves their respect indeed.

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    Replies
    1. There's also the possibility no one else wants the job--either of them.

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  11. Never mind a gold watch, you deserve a large gold medal for all that you do, and all that you will continue to do.

    You are an inspiration and a great role model and I can only echo all the nice things your readers have said, for they are well deserved.

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  12. You're so busy, busy, busy. I'm a sloth by comparison.
    You're an inspiration to all who would follow you.

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  13. Hari Om
    When it dawned on me (somewhere mid 40s) that I would likely have to work till end of days, the decision was made to make 'life' a holiday, ensuring that activity at all times was by my choice, fitting with my philosophical outlook, and would have a positive impact upon all whom I met.

    Admittedly, I do not have children or grandchildren to concern me. That said, I believe, Joanne, that you manage to get the best from each day and whilst it is not at all the vision of three terms back, your 'revision-ing' will surely bring dividends. Perhaps not in gold, but something much more worthy... YAM xx

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  14. what an inspiration you are, just wondering though, do we ever get to retire, or do we want to

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  15. Make time to visit Bath, UK, when you finally hang up the gloves, Joanne.

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  16. they will be in a pickle whenever you do retire. what happens if no one wants the position after you leave?

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  17. Those chairs do look uncomfortable.
    We used to get the Akron Beacon Journal and the Plain Dealer.

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  18. Just remember this: Retirement isn't all it's cracked up to be. We just move from the job to the other jobs! If you know what I mean. I retired from nursing to take care of my husband. And I retired from taking care of him to take care of the grandkids. Hope I don't retire from taking care of them to do anything else. But you never know!!!!

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  19. I am the poster child for retirement. I love it! I write this from my desk at the Lifeboat Museum where I am volunteering. Retirement doesn't mean we don't work. It means we've made a decision of what work we do. As long as you enjoy your work and feel appreciated, it's almost as good as retirement!

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  20. I have always seen you as someone who needs to be in governing. You have a way of slicing through the bullshit. It is a talent.

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  21. The fact that so many would circulate petitions for you is a strong testament as to how they feel about you and your work.

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  22. You have kept many in line, I am sure. Clearly, you are loved.

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  23. If only more elected officials had your standard of work ethic, everything would run better.

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