Ellen Harper has seen many changes since she began working as the Bronson City Clerk, in Oct. 1986, over 34 years ago.
“Government is constantly changing,” she said. “There’s a lot more demands and red tape. Technology has advanced, I’ve gone from paper and pencil to everything computerized. Even community has changed, it’s difficult seeing the struggles a small town faces trying to survive, businesses and organizations closings, but I’ve been involved in assisting with many positive projects to keep our town viable with upgrades to our utility systems, streets, parks, a new fire station, community center, and library.”
Her duties have included ‘just about everything!” she said. “I always said, I couldn’t decide if I wanted to be an accountant, teacher, or do social work, and being a city clerk you do all that and more.”
“It’s not just sending out utility bills and answering the phone,” Harper said. “There are so many different aspects to the job. You work with the governing body, keep records, ordinances, accounting, utilities, human resources, reporting, court records, take citizen’s complaints -that’s a tough one-and anything else necessary to serve the community. I’ve learned that with the government you never learn everything and what you do, they change it. You have to do the best you can and accept you can’t please everyone.”
“Working in public service is challenging and sometimes you deal with adverse situations,” she said. “I enjoy meeting people and being part of helping the community on a local level, but I’ve also met many great people through the state agencies I’ve worked with and colleagues from other cities throughout the state. We have some great state organizations to help us grow personally and professionally and just be there to help each other out.”
Harper pursued her career because she needed a job, but it became so much more, she said.
“This was close to home while raising our children, but it became so much more,” Harper said. “I grew up here and I care about the community.”
Fort Scott City Clerk Diane Clay sent the news tip of Harper retiring.
” We both attended the Wichita State University City Clerk School and graduated together in 2003,” Clay said. “We have attended numerous city clerk functions and trainings together as well as many court clerk trainings. We have traveled together to many trainings and I enjoy her company.”
Harper has been a member of the City Clerks and Municipal Finance Officers Association of Kansas, the International Institution of Municipal Clerks from which she obtained a Municipal Clerk Certification, and a member of the Kansas Association for Court Management, she said.
She is also involved in her community.
“I was a volunteer member of the Bronson Fire Dept., which later became Bourbon County District 3,” she said. “I’ve helped organize activities and fundraisers and volunteer time and labor in refurbishing our park. I’m a member of the Bronson United Methodist Church in which I hold several positions.”
Following her retirement on April 16, Harper is looking forward to more free time with family and friends, gardening, and traveling.
In addition, “‘ll be riding the trails and sand dunes in our RZR and taking trips on our trike.”
The Bronson City Council had a retirement luncheon for Harper on April 14, which was open to the public.
“She knew what she was doing and did it patiently,” said longtime council member Geraldine Reeder of Clerk Harper. “She put in all in her job, she just did.”