‘New chapter’ after 38 years at City Hall

Jane DeVries is retiring at the end of this month after working for the city of Marshall since 1979

Photo by Deb Gau Jane DeVries is retiring after working for 38 years with the city of Marshall. She started in 1979 as a receptionist and has had several job duties and titles.

MARSHALL — Clerical duties, organizing local elections, taking minutes at Marshall City Council meetings — Jane DeVries has done it all.

“I started in 1979, as a receptionist. I was the person at the front desk,” DeVries said Friday. In the 38 years she’s worked for the city of Marshall, she’s had plenty of different job duties and titles, including assistant city clerk, and city clerk starting in 2016. “I’ve done a little bit of everything.”

But the time has come to move on, DeVries said. She is officially retiring at the end of the month.

“I’m ready to do a new chapter” in life, she said.

A reception was held for DeVries on Friday evening.

DeVries said she’s seen a lot of change in the city over the years. The Marshall Municipal building is very different today than when she first started work. At that time, both the Marshall Fire Department and Marshall Police still had stations in the city hall building.

Devries said she knew everyone working at city hall.

“Some of the people from when I started are still here,” she said. DeVries also worked with former Marshall city finance director Tom Meulebroeck for many years. “Tom was my only supervisor, until he retired.”

Devries said her co-workers with the city have been one of the best parts of her career.

“It’s always been a good group of people to work with,” she said. “I’m going to miss them.”

“I’ve had a lot of changes in job duties over the years,” DeVries said. Over time, some of those duties have shifted to different city offices — for example, she said, she used to do work for Marshall’s special assessments process, but that task is handled more by the city engineering offices now. Other jobs, like local elections, have just been streamlined.

“Marshall used to have six voting locations,” instead of the three it has today, DeVries said. She and Meulebroeck used to work together to prepare for and hold local elections. Even with fewer voting precincts, that was a big job.

DeVries said technological changes also had a big impact on her work.

“When I started, everything was typed on typewriters,” DeVries said. The typing wasn’t a problem for her, she said, but the change to computerized documents still made some parts of her job a lot easier. “It was a good thing, because it was a lot easier to make a change,” to a document, she said.

But having a lot of experience with paper records comes in handy, too. “I can still pretty much find lots of old stuff, when people want it,” she said.

That’s a big reason DeVries is going into phased retirement. Since September, she’s been working with Kyle Box, Marshall’s new city clerk, to help get him trained in. DeVries will still be available next year to assist with transition to a new clerk.

It’s not easy to get familiar with all the tasks that a city clerk does in a short training period, DeVries said, especially “when you might do one thing once every two years.”

“Getting through (2018) elections is going to be a big thing,” she said. But working with Box has been a good experience. “I think he’ll do a good job.”