Monday, December 31, 2012

City Clerk leaves post after 26 years

It’s mid-December and Susan Weathers sits in her office at Coeur d’Alene City Hall. The walls are bare. Her desk is spotless. Only a loose end or two need wrapping up before 2012 comes to a close.
After more than two decades, Weathers is retiring from her post as city clerk, effective today.
She won’t leave empty handed, though. Memories, friendships and experience from 26 years on the job will go with her.
“The years have gone by in a blink,” she says. “I feel like I’ve had the front row seat in the World Series of Coeur d’Alene.”
Indeed, she has.
Weathers, appointed city clerk in 1987, has served under four mayors. She has seen Coeur d’Alene grow more than 40 percent over the years, watched as it lost its lumber mills and witnessed it emerge as a tourist destination.
“When the mills closed, it was probably the biggest economic impact on our community,” she says. “That’s when we had to reinvent ourselves as a city. That’s when we became a tourist town. “
Weathers was 38 years old when then-Mayor Ray Stone appointed her city clerk. At the time, she was working in the medical field.
“It’s ironic,” she says, with a laugh. “I was tired of the politics of the medical world, and I just thought I needed a change. I went from the frying pan into the fire.”
She knew a little about what she was getting into. Her mother was deputy city clerk in the 60s.
When asked what the biggest changes were during her tenure, she pauses.
“The different mayors,” she says. “You don’t change your job, but your bosses change.”
What she remembers about her first boss, Stone, is his focus on combatting the Aryans, the white supremacist group based in Hayden until about 2000.
After Stone came Al Hassell. During his term, technology at City Hall expanded, Weathers said.
“When I came to work here, we had one old typewriter and one computer for the whole department,” she says. “We had to handwrite every action Council took.”
Steve Judy was elected Mayor in 1997, after Hassell. He, too, served for one term. Weathers remembers it was a challenging time, mostly because of Judy’s administrative hires.
If she ever thought about quitting her job, it was during those years, she said. But she hung on, and things changed when Sandi Bloem took office in 2001, Weathers said. She’ll remember Bloem for her vision for the city.
What didn’t change over the years are many of Weathers’ colleagues and confidants who remain at City Hall today.
“What stands out the most is that both of us grew and matured in our jobs,” said Wastewater Superintendent Sid Fredrickson, who started working for the city just a year before Weathers. “We went from raw apprentices to seasoned veterans.”
Weathers looks back fondly on her years at City Hall and is looking forward to what’s next, though she doesn’t exactly know what that will be.
“I’m pretty open,” she says. “If people need some volunteer work, call me.”