Connie Hanson, retiring deputy city clerk, shares job memories
Volume 35 of the Estherville City Council minutes books will be changing hands as Connie Hanson, deputy city clerk, is retiring at the end of July.
“This is the 21st volume that I have worked on,” she said Wednesday.
Her career with the City of Estherville began Dec. 21, 1970, when she was hired by then city manager Bill Keenum. She had been working for Iowa Lakes Community College as secretary to the adult education director for two and one-half years. Prior employment included being a Fareway grocery checker while attending Estherville Junior College. “That was when Fareway was located on the corner of First Avenue South and South Seventh Street and the door faced west.” She also was employed in the office of John Morrell & Co. for one and one-half years as a general clerk. She is a graduate of Estherville High School.
Coming to work for the city meant taking a cut in pay, but Hanson was looking at the big picture. What she saw was a job opportunity and how she could be an asset to the municipality with her office experience.
Keenum hired her for a new position secretary to the city manager. “I started out with a new typewriter, a new desk, and all new office furniture,” Hanson said.
During her employment with the city, Hanson has been the city manager’s secretary, city superintendent’s secretary, accounts payable, city administrator’s secretary and deputy city clerk. “At one time, I worked for several weeks as the city superintendent’s secretary and doing accounts payable when one of the girls was in a serious auto accident.”
She recalled the conversion upgrades involving office equipment. “I remember the conversion from the Thermofax copier to the newer copiers. We had to go to the police department to make our copies. (City offices and the police department were then located on South Seventh Street where the administrative offices of Iowa Lakes are now housed.) We also used a machine called a Gestetner. After using a typewriter to type on a stencil, we put the stencil on the machine, inked it, and printed off our copies.” It was pointed out that persons operating this machine knew to be careful, as the colored ink did not come off clothing if it strayed during the printing process.
“We were all happy to get our Xerox machine with the huge capacity and collator when Bernard was city manager. However, it was very expensive to rent from Xerox and went back when Bernard resigned. We then used another good copier, but more cost-effective for a city of our size.”
Some of her favorite highlights during her city career was the big move from South Seventh Street to the former Gardston Hotel building (current office). “Most offices were on the ground level, but the parks and recreation department needed more room and was located in the basement.”
She recalls fondly when she was appointed deputy city clerk on Sept. 4, 1984, upon the retirement of Alice Voster. “I still do typing for the city clerk, city administrator, and community development director, when needed.”
Another special time was the opening of the newly remodeled library after it had been temporarily relocated to the old JC Penney building where Thrifty’s is now.
Probably the biggest change was the switch to computers and learning how to operate them. “We were used to only using typewriters and copiers. The first system was a Burrough’s. We upgraded a few years after that. At one point, we ordered several Gateway computers, although the computers we have now are so much faster than the older ones. Later we were able to get a FAX machine, which helped even more,” Hanson explained.
What she called the busiest time involved the preparation and hosting of RAGBRAI (Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa) when the trip stopped in Estherville two times. “It required a great deal of planning to accommodate that many people in our smaller community. We also had a citywide cleanup previous to RAGBRAI coming to town.”
The recodification of the Estherville City Code marked another busy time for Hanson. “I was told that I saved the city over $7,000 as the city previously used a codification service. I have continued to make code revisions whenever we pass new ordinances. When we get an accumulation of revisions, I send out copies to everyone on our list.”
Her most recent duties include:
n Sending out the council agendas.
n Typing the council minutes.
n Recording and organizing resolutions and ordinances that have been passed.
“I make sure ordinances and the council minutes are published in the Estherville Daily News. There are also the Estherville City Code revisions, council member appointment history, electrical/water/sewer rate recap related to ordinances, beer permits, liquor licenses and cigarette permits, city budget, city directory, board and commission appointment records, among other miscellaneous duties.”
She cited reasons for retiring. “Partly it is because I enjoy traveling to Arizona, and I hope we will be able to go there in the winter. I also want to spend more time with family and friends. She and her husband Ron, a lifelong resident of Estherville, are the parents to Ryan. He is a nuclear pharmacist in the Chicago area who recently married Cheryl Ozog in Chicago.
When she has time, Hanson enjoys their home computer system, and her hobbies include baking, some scrap booking, boating, and traveling.
“I will miss being downtown, the friendships with my co-workers, and being in the office and knowing what’s going on in the city. This has been a great place to work.”