The proclamation in her honor noted she has served under six mayors, two city managers and drafted agendas and minutes for more than 360 public meetings.
“Ms. Eaton has always been a dependable employee, staying late on Tuesday nights for Council meetings and always at her desk bright and early on Wednesday mornings,” the proclamation noted, drawing a laugh when Mayor Mike Smith read, “Ms. Eaton kept the office candy dish full and could be counted on to have matching shoes, sweaters and handbags.”
She is being succeeded in the position by Heather Barbour whose appointment as Clerk of Council was approved unanimously by a resolution by Council that same evening.
Barbour comes to the city staff from a position with the Miami University libraries, where she worked for eight years managing facilities not only in the Oxford campus but Hamilton and Middletown, as well. She has been working with Eaton for several weeks, learning her new responsibilities and said she looks forward to her new job.
“It’s definitely a different pace than what I come from. There was a lot action including homeless people living in the library. Here, there is definitely a change of pace. There are still stresses but it will be a refreshing change from what I’m used to,” Barbour said.
She said she lives in Indiana with her 20-year-old cat.
Eaton thanked the Council and staff at her final regular meeting calling it an honor and pleasure to serve as deputy clerk and clerk for 17 of her 20 years employed by the city.
Vice Mayor Bill Snavely praised her work, saying, “I have never seen anyone work harder or better.” Council member David Prytherch echoed that, saying, “You have been the voice of the city of Oxford since I have been here. People do not realize how central the clerk is to the running of the city.”
In a later interview, Eaton said she has seen many changes during her years as Clerk of Council, but the biggest was the use of technology.
“I used to tape (record) meetings (to do the minutes) and now we are livestreaming. The city has tried to keep up pretty well,” she said. She noted that in times prior to her being the clerk, they had to read the minutes and ordinances in their entirety at Council meetings before voting to approve them. “I never had to do that, thank goodness.”
Eaton recalled several topics on Council agendas which were contentious – the mask ordinance and OATs trail, recently – but a few events are also memorable.
“Once, the tornado sirens went off, while Prue Dana was mayor, and we all had to huddle in the basement. One night (during the COVID-19 pandemic), we were on a Zoom meeting in the building and at 11, the alarms went off,” she recalled, adding another tense time was after 9/11. “Everyone was on edge with that and the recession and coming back. A lot of cities struggled and had to lay people off. Fortunately, we did not have to.”
She lives in Oxford Twp. with her husband of 41 years, Randy, who works as and HVAC technician. They moved to the area from Columbus in 1990.
She praised him for his support, especially on late Tuesday Council nights, since no one could every really know how late they would be.
“You think it would be horrible, but it’s not. Sometimes, you look at an agenda and think it will be over quickly and goes later,” she said. “It’s been a rewarding job, especially when you finish with a big project. It’s always exciting when an election comes and there is new mayor every few years. The clerk’s job is a learning process.”
Barbour will officially take the office Wednesday and is ready for that learning process.
“I’m looking forward to it. I have gotten great training from Mary Ann. We will miss her institutional knowledge,” she said.