Chances are if you have or are looking for information related to the City of Columbus, you’ve crossed paths with Janelle Kline, Kelli Keyes and Linda Nickeson.
The trio comprises the City Clerk's Office. Kline is now in year 11 as the city clerk, while Keyes is the assistant city clerk and Nickeson is the account clerk II/records clerk II.
“Every day is different bringing on new challenges, said Kline, who has been with the City of Columbus for 23 years total. “It’s nice because we see things come to fruition. We see projects through from the beginning to the end.”
Working in the city clerk’s office certainly keeps the three women on their toes. The department is responsible for enforcing policies and technical and administrative support to the mayor, Columbus City Council and city administration. It serves as a liaison between the public, elected officials and city staff; prepares agendas and minutes for Columbus City Council and various committee meetings; updates and maintains all permanent records of the city, including ordinances, resolutions and records for Columbus and Roselawn cemeteries.
“We’re helping people understand local government, how processes work,” said Keyes, who joined the clerk’s office in 2022 after 12 years at the public library. “We get a lot of questions. Every situation is different.”
Keyes and Nickeson, who has 25 years of experience working in the department, said the job involves a lot of interaction with people who often have a variety of emotions. Sometimes people come in who have just lost a loved one and need to purchase a burial plot, or they come in angry because they don’t feel they should have to go through a certain process to get something accomplished.
The job requires not only empathy and understanding, but a willingness to take time to explain the processes and the purpose for the processes. The goal is for everyone to feel better about their situation when they leave the office or end a phone conversation.
Then there’s just the basis of what they do.
“A lot of our job is just making sure we follow state statute,” Kline said. “We always have to make sure state statute (laws enacted by the Nebraska Legislature) is followed.”
The International Institute of Municipal Clerks (IIMC) is celebrating the 54th annual Professional Municipal Clerks Week April 30th-May 6th, 2023. Columbus Mayor Jim Bulkley signed a proclamation during the regular May 1st Columbus City Council meeting, declaring this week National Professional Municipal Clerks Week in Columbus.
Bulkley said he truly appreciates all the time and effort the City Clerk’s Office puts into their work.
“The city clerk and her staff are an essential part of city government. They have their fingers involved in almost everything we do on a daily basis,” the mayor said. “They are extremely competent and courteous to not only council, but also the public that come in with questions and concerns. I don’t think people recognize just how involved they are in the day-to-day workings of our city government.”
City Administrator Tara Vasicek praised everyone who works in the City Clerk’s Office for their efforts.
“They do very valuable work every single day that has to be done,” Vasicek said. “The City Clerk’s Office really keeps all of the rest of us in line in the sense that they know all the state law requirements. They’re a great resource for all staff related to state statute, public notices, gathering information for meetings, as well as notifying appointed and elected officials.”
Being part of the clerk’s office team isn’t always easy; however, all three women said it’s certainly rewarding. But what do they love most about what they do? Kline, Keyes and Nickeson were all consistent with their answer.
“The people,” Kline said. “We like interacting with all of the people.”
(ABOUT THE PHOTO: The Clerk's Office team, Kelli Keyes, left, Janelle Kline and Linda Nickeson.)