In sort of a changing of the guard setting, Paoli Town Clerk/Treasurer Marilyn Miller relinquished her role to retirement after 38 1/2 years. Taking on the reins Jan. 1 was Joy Schafer.
“I’m excited to be doing this,” said Schafer, acknowledging that other people her age are retiring, but she’s just starting this new fun venture.
She sees her role as being the information person to pull things together for the Paoli Town Board — or maybe the jump-starter.
Schafer sees the job, which is approximately quarter time, as being perfect for her.
Even though Paoli is a very small community, it still has all the workings of a larger town.
There are more than 20 customers to bill for trash, water and sewer services. Additionally, there are finance details with regard to highway user fund, cigarette tax, county treasurer budget funds and conservation trust funds (lottery). Schafer will also serve as secretary for the Paoli Town Board meetings.
Marilyn Miller, pictured at right with the Paoli town seal, has retired from her position as town clerk/treasurer after 38 1/2 years. Also pictured is new Paoli Clerk/Treasurer Joy Schafer and Virgil Harms, who has served as Paoli mayor for 53 years.
Miller worked extensively with the Colorado Department of Health and Environment for a grant to update the town’s water system. Schafer counts on continued communication with the retired clerk/treasurer for details for grant compliance.
Recently, Paoli received a grant through the Department of Local Affairs for a new town hall, which will be constructed right across the street to the southeast of the current town hall at the corner of Highway 6 and Lohn Street. That will be a major project as Schafer begins her new position.
One role looking to shift with this changing of the guard is the go-to person for Paoli. With Miller living right in Paoli, it was convenient for people to just drop in to tell her of issues with town services.
The new go-to person will be resident Jim McBee, who serves as mayor pro-tem for the Paoli Town Board. Virgil Harms, who has served as mayor for 53 years, will continue in that role.
Since no one who resides in Paoli was interested in the clerk/treasurer post, it became something that intrigued Schafer.
Miller said she has leaned extensively on Phillips County Administrator Randy Schafer, Joy’s husband, for various budget things and more during her tenure.
“He has a heart for Paoli,” said Joy, who noted he will assist her to get on board with the relative paperwork, as he has a lot of information.
When Randy was a Yuma County 4-H member years ago, he and Marilyn’s husband Leland Miller met at State 4-H Conference and Camp Tobin at the state fair. Leland then asked Randy to speak at a Memorial Day program in Holyoke when he was in college.
Later, when Randy came to Phillips County to interview for his job with the county, Leland was a county commissioner. Joy said her husband credits Leland with his endorsement for moving them to this county.
That was in 1974, and the Schafers moved to their home eight miles north of Paoli in 1976.
Schafer grew up in northwest Illinois and moved to this state when she married Randy, a Colorado boy. She started college in 1968 at Huntington College in Indiana. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Ashford University in Clinton, Iowa, in 2012.
When asked what she has been involved with in the past, Schafer simply says, “I keep the home fires burning.” She does coordinate the monthly food pantry and senior commodities for Phillips County.
Schafer got her financial training under Josephine McWilliams during the four years she worked as a clerk and in the loan department at First National Bank of Holyoke in the late 1970s.
Schafer remembers one week when they had to find a one-penny discrepancy. She said she often goes back to that memory which taught her that accounts have to eventually balance.
She has also worked at the two newspapers in Phillips County and wrote a weekly column for 15 years. Schafer has helped her husband with research in a mapping business and worked with Phillips County Extension with the 4-H program for six or seven years.
The Schafer family includes daughter Naomi of Holyoke, who works at Busy Buddies Learning Center and the school cafeteria; and son Joshua and his wife Brechen, who live and work in Aurora.
Miller tenure covers close to four decades
Miller’s service to the Town of Paoli as clerk/treasurer spanned almost four decades. “She’ll be totally missed,” said McBee.
Taking over her role in July of 1976, Miller remembers one of her first endeavors was helping to plan and coordinate the Bicentennial Blowout that year.
Much business has transpired in her 38 1/2 years as clerk/treasurer.
A clear memory for Miller is when the town got general obligation water bonds. Someone had to go to Denver to a bank on 17th Street, she said. She carried the Paoli town seal down 17th Street, and the guys in the office “about died laughing,” she related.
Apparently the seal was quite antiquated then (around 1978), but it’s still being used today.
The sewer and water system cost around $70,000, and Miller is proud to point out that the $40,000 in water bonds were paid off ahead of schedule.
Miller fielded many calls and much attention back in late 2011 when Harms reached his 50th anniversary as mayor. The event made local, state and national news.
Miller and her husband Leland moved to their home in Paoli in 1962 with two young daughters and 3-month-old twin sons.
Leland died in 1986. Daughter Melinda Groshans is postmaster in Haxtun; daughter Melissa Evans and husband Ron live in Nebraska, where Melissa is Extension educator with Deuel and Garden counties; son Mike farms near Holyoke; and son Mitch (a marketing director) and his wife Julie live south of Bennett. She has seven grandchildren and one great-grandson.
Miller served as postmaster in Paoli for 40 years, starting in 1971 until her retirement in 2011.
She said she wanted to hit at least 40 years as town clerk/treasurer, but her failing eyesight with macular degeneration forced her to retire sooner than she wanted to.
Schafer said she’s kept the phone line to Marilyn hot, and she’s grateful that Miller is only a phone call away.
Holyoke Enterprise January 22, 2015