Tuesday is ‘Mary Ann Eaton Day’ in Oxford as clerk of council retires

Mary Ann Eaton was congratulated on her retirement as the city’s Clerk of Council at her final regular meeting Nov. 16. She was presented with this flower arrangement and a mayoral proclamation recognizing her last day on the job, Nov. 30, as Mary Ann Eaton Day in the City of Oxford. CONTRIBUTED

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Mary Ann Eaton was congratulated on her retirement as the city’s Clerk of Council at her final regular meeting Nov. 16. She was presented with this flower arrangement and a mayoral proclamation recognizing her last day on the job, Nov. 30, as Mary Ann Eaton Day in the City of Oxford. CONTRIBUTED

Leaders praise her as dedicated and hard-working

OXFORD — Clerk of Council Mary Ann Eaton will retire from city employment after work on Nov. 30, ending 20 years of service to the community.

Appointed to the clerk’s position in 2009, she has been responsible for putting together the City Council agenda, producing the meeting minutes and a host of other duties to make meetings run smoothly. As Council members and staff congratulated her on her retirement at the November 16 meeting, City Law Director Chris Conard described her work saying, “For the public always seeing the faces talking, the clerk is the glue that holds it all together.”

Eaton began her employment with the city as an accounting assistant in the finance department in 2001, was promoted to Deputy Clerk in 2004 and became responsible for City Council’s meeting minutes in 2006. She was appointed Clerk of Council in 2009.

A mayoral proclamation Nov. 16 cited her work for the city and proclaimed this Tuesday as “Mary Ann Eaton Day” in the city.

“With a new Council coming on now, I felt it might be a good time to change my way of life for a while,” she said. “I like to work on projects I put on hold at home, reorganizing, remodeling. I’ve been traveling to Columbus every other weekend to visit my dad, who is 90. My sister is there and I can help my sister out with his care. That’s my only immediate plan. When summer time comes, it may change a lot.”

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.

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