Calling it a Career

Published 10:26 am Tuesday, June 9, 2009

IRONTON — A significant page in the 160 year political history of the city turned last week when longtime clerk of council Janet Hieronimus announced her retirement from the post she has held for the past 27 years.

Hieronimus, who will be partially relocating to Kissimmee, Fla., with her husband Dan, said the decision to walk away was very difficult.

“I have mixed feelings about it. It is very, very bittersweet,” the Ironton native said.

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Hieronimus’ husband is former Lawrence County Sheriff Dan Hieronimus who served as the county’s head law enforcement official from 1981 through 1993. Janet said much of her decision to step away from the clerk’s position was Dan’s retirement from the STAR Community Justice Center in Franklin Furnace last summer.

The clerk of council is the administrative arm of Ironton City Council. The clerk prepares and maintains the minutes of council meetings and selected committee sessions along with administering the roll call for each vote. The clerk is also responsible for maintaining an index file of ordinances and resolutions adopted by city council, some going back decades.

Unlike the mayors and dozens of councilmen and women who have revolved in and out of council chambers through the years, Hieronimus has been a steady and reliable presence for the city and its legislative body since clerking her first meeting in 1982.

So steady and reliable in fact, that Hieronimus’ attendance at the semimonthly meetings and too-many-to-count committee sessions is stuff of legend.

Since accepting the clerk’s position nearly three decades ago, Hieronimus has missed only a handful of meetings and committees. Those statistics do not even take into consideration the other responsibilities of the position that has her at the Ironton City Center an additional two or three times a week.

In other words, Hieronimus has been the rock of Ironton’s legislative body. In 27 years, she has never missed a meeting due to sickness and never scheduled a vacation that would conflict with a council session.

But at the beginning, that rock was a little pebble in a big ocean.

“I do remember my first council meeting. I was just amazed and impressed,” Hieronimus said reflecting on when council held session on the third floor of Memorial Hall. “The city had just switched from its city manager to mayoral form of government right when I took over.”

She said the two most important lessons she learned from clerking was the meanings of compromise and putting personal feelings aside.

Hieronimus said all minutes from Ironton City Council meetings are written in shorthand and transcribed immediately following each session since they “are fresh in my mind.”

Even though Hieronimus’ retirement was effective June 1, she will clerk for the June 25 council meeting. The part-time position is being replaced by Marta Leach, who comes from the law firm of current Lawrence County Prosecutor J.B. Collier, Jr.

Besides clerking, Hieronimus served as an adult probation officer with the Lawrence County Diversion Program for 15 years, a department that she and its three other employees were selected as one of the best in the state numerous times with it being awarded the prestigious Clifford Skeen Award in corrections.

Since 1982, Hieronimus has also served as a special deputy for the Lawrence County Sheriff’s department.

In her free time, Hieronimus is involved with her membership at First Baptist Church and her three grandchildren and one great-grandchild. She also takes care of her 91-year-old mother and 94-year-old aunt.

For Hieronimus, just making a difference in the growth of Ironton, is what makes the satisfaction of serving the city and working with other city workers so special.

“I love my city. It made me part of the city that I love.”