2017-02-26 / Insight

‘The backbone of an office’

Betty Kennedy has been clerk in North Branch for nearly 30 years
BY NICHOLAS PUGLIESE
810-452-2601 • npugliese@mihomepaper.com


North Branch Village Clerk Betty Kennedy has been a fixture in the village offices for nearly 30 years and has gotten to know most of the village’s residents during that time. She’s active in several professional organizations in addition to her duties as clerk, and shows no signs of slowing down. 
Photo by Nicholas Pugliese North Branch Village Clerk Betty Kennedy has been a fixture in the village offices for nearly 30 years and has gotten to know most of the village’s residents during that time. She’s active in several professional organizations in addition to her duties as clerk, and shows no signs of slowing down. Photo by Nicholas Pugliese NORTH BRANCH — Every municipal government features a person working in the role of a clerk, though many may not realize what exactly the job entails. Betty Kennedy has a pretty good idea of a clerk’s duties, though. Kennedy has been the village clerk in North Branch for nearly 30 years, and in that time she has received numerous awards and recognitions for her exemplary job performance.

“Clerks really are important people in a local government,” said. Kennedy. “In a lot of ways, they’re the backbone of an office.”

Kennedy’s office walls are adorned with all manner of accolades and certificates of achievement dating back multiple decades. When asked what keeps her going, she simply shrugged and said, “Basically I love my job.”

She began her career as a clerk when she was elected in March of 1988, and the specifics of her role has changed slightly over the years. At points she has been a deputy treasurer, a deputy clerk, has worked part-time — moving exclusively to a full-time role in 1996 — and at other points she was working as the clerk for both North Branch village and North Branch Township — a situation she credits as providing her a solid background.

“It was interesting, working for both (village and township),” she said. “I got to see things from a different prospective.”

A clerk, whether at a village, township, city or county, is an elected official that is responsible for a myriad of duties in a municipal government. A clerk often maintains records, updates the general ledger, prepares utility bills, takes municipal meeting minutes, composes newsletters, and assists other members of government. All of this is done usually with a deputy, which Kennedy does not have. “It’s a lot more than a lot of people realize,” she said. “And I do it all myself.”

But Kennedy points to the variety and volume of tasks as a positive, not a negative. In fact, she credits it as a factor in her longevity.

“The variety of stuff keeps the job fresh,” she said. And because of this, Kennedy continues to seek and receive reelection every four years, almost always unopposed. Throughout the years, Kennedy has continued her training, first becoming a certified clerk with the International Institute of Municipal Clerks before eventually earning the title of master clerk.

Among her various certifications and awards, she has been certified as a Michigan Municipal Clerk and in 2004, won recognition as the Michigan Village Clerk of the Year through the Michigan Association of Municipal Clerks (MAMC).

Beyond her full-time responsibilities as North Branch village clerk, Kennedy is involved in several professional organizations, both voluntarily and as part of her role as clerk. She is vice president of the North Branch Area Business Association (NBABA), which, among other events, is involved in the yearly buck pole and Christmas parade, she is involved with the Lapeer County Clerks Association and the MAMC (the latter of which she served as treasurer for 11 years), and most recently, she was appointed to the Lapeer County Rural Task Force.

“All the acronyms are hard to keep track of sometimes,” Kennedy joked, referring to all the truncated names of her various organizations.

Kennedy admits retirement has crossed her mind, and notes that when she hits that 30 year mark next March, she’ll have some soul-searching to do.

“I’ll definitely be happy when I get to 30 years,” she said. “But I’ve thought about (retiring) after that.” For now, though, Kennedy is focused on the present. “(North Branch) will start working on an ICE grant,” she said.

ICE, another acronym, stands for Infrastructure Capacity Enhancement, and Kennedy said the funds would be used to repair and rebuild Banker Street curbs and gutters. To receive the funds, Kennedy said the state requires city officials to attend a seminar. “But I already took the class, not knowing I’d need it,” Kennedy said humbly.

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