By Ivan Raconteur
HOWARD LAKE, MN Things won’t be quite the same in Howard Lake from now on.
City Clerk Gene Gilbert was recognized during Tuesday’s Howard Lake City Council meeting for her 36 years of service as city clerk.
According to a proclamation read by Mayor Pete Zimmerman during Tuesday’s meeting, Gilbert, who will retire in June, “has provided full and complete public record relating to over 900 city council meetings.”
The proclamation, titled ““Famous & Legally Binding Mayor’s Proclamation in Recognition of Emmagene Gilbert’s Phenomenal Professional Longevity and Conclusion to Career,” further states that Gilbert worked for six mayors, 27 council members, and eight city administrators during her time as Howard Lake’s city clerk.
In addition to the proclamation, the city council has dedicated a new park bench, complete with a plaque of recognition, to be installed at a location of Gilbert’s choosing.
“Most folks do not realize how important the city clerk, and in particular, Gene Gilbert, is to the City of Howard Lake,” City Administrator Nick Haggenmiller noted. “It’s a job that stays out of the limelight, but nearly every city function in some form concerns her efforts. In her career and largely because of her stewardship, the city has maintained a strong financial position, weathered two recessions, and seen strong but steady growth.”
“Gene has been the one constant in the organization and has been the face of the City of Howard Lake,” Zimmerman said. “I credit Gene for getting me interested in local government and serving on the council.”
Gilbert’s longgevity has made her a valuable resource for the community. A July 2010 Herald Journal story commemorating Gilbert’s then 30 years as clerk noted that when people have a question about something related to Howard Lake, “Gene will know,” is their first thought.
“It has truly been an honor to serve in this position for the city and the council for the past 36 years,” Gilbert commented durng Tuesday’s meeting. “I joked, I didn’t think I would miss this . . . but I will absolutely miss place and all the great people I have worked with and for over the years.”
A retirement open house in Gilbert’s honor is set for Friday, June 17 from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Historic City Hall meeting room in Howard Lake. The public is welcome to attend.
In related council action during Tuesday’s meeting, the city council approved a new organizational structure to take effect with Gilbert’s departure in June.
Moving forward, City Administrator Haggenmiller will be named the official statutory city clerk, and will manage contracts, record keeping, and other traditional clerk duties.
Utility Billing Clerk Meghan Rathkamp has been promoted to a new position of accountant/treasurer, and will oversee the daily financial management of the city.
A new assistant city administrator position has been created, and will assist with the general management of certain divisions of the city, including public works.
This position is expected to be advertised and filled by the fall of the year.
Finally, the city is in the process of filling a part-time administrative assistant position.
The revised organizational structure is not anticipated to have a significant impact of the annual budget, Haggenmiller noted. The change is estimated at less than $5,000 annually.