The value of a village clerk

After 32 years, Becky Sandman says it's time to retire as the Utica village clerk. When she took the job, it wasn't as demanding as it is now. "When I first started, they told me to have the office open 12 hours a week," Sandman said. "And I couldn't find enough to keep busy. I haven't had a problem now finding enough work to do, because now there's plenty."

Sandman says there's much more paperwork required today. And she learned how to handle it all on the job. "When we moved back to Utica in 1985, this position came open because the previous clerk passed away," Sandman's husband Don said. "So Beck moved into this job not knowing anything, or where anything was at, or what needed to be done. It was just between her and the board to continue."

City leaders say over the years, Becky Sandman has played a key role in moving important projects along in Utica. "One was to get the sales tax issue in the LB840 ecomonic development program on the ballot," Utica town leader Don Olson said. "LB840 can provide grants and loans to new businesses that want to come into town." Other projects included refurbishing the water treatment plant, and getting water mains replaced. All of those projects took time. Sandman's husband Don says she did it while maintaining a home life. "What people don't realize is when you are a village clerk, there is a whole lot more to it than just being a clerk," Don Sandman said. "There is a home life. We had five girls at home. One year we went to absolutely every school program that our kids had because we had a child in kindergarten and one in high school. We had them two years in between and we went to every single program."

Sandman says the board was more than willing to help her balance home and work life. "I could still be a sponsor for a field trip when the kids were younger, or after the kids were grown and gone, I was taking care of my mother," Sandman said. "Those who were involved with hiring Becky 32 years ago say the town has benefited from her organizational skills. "She has brought expertise to this job, the way I look at it," former village board member Larry Barth said. "It used to be cumbersome, now everything has it's place."

Reflecting on her career, Sandman says there have been a number of highlights. "I was very proud of being certified as a clerk," Sandman said. "Another highlight would probably be when Utica was chosen or awarded the community leadership designation. That was a big deal for our town." But those who know her best say she'll be remembered most for how she did her job. "I think the thing that impressed me the most is she did it right. She did it with a Christian attitude," Sandman's husband Don said. "There were times when people couldn't pay their water bill. And I know she stepped up a couple of times and paid them. They never did know it, but that's the kind of person she is."