Danville clerk a master at complex job
DANVILLE – A city clerk proofreads, rewrites and proofreads again ordinances and resolutions that a city council considers.
"But it's the mayor who gets the credit," joked Mohammad Eftekhari, director of education and research at the International Institute of Municipal Clerks.
Municipal clerks – a silent but essential part of city government – rarely receive kudos for their work, Eftekhari said. But Danville's city clerk, Janet Myers, was recently honored for an achievement that was 10 years in the making.
Earlier this month, the city council congratulated Myers as she was pinned by Urbana City Clerk Phyllis Clark for becoming a master municipal clerk after she completed more than 168 hours of coursework through the International Institute of Municipal Clerks.
The courses are college-level, Eftekhari said.
"It's a lengthy program which prepares clerks beyond the levels of today and tomorrow," he said. The courses teach practical skills and allow clerks to share their methods through networking.
Myers is one of 29 city clerks statewide and 553 internationally, of the more than 10,000 municipal clerks worldwide who are members of the institute, to have completed the master's program.
Myers did it in 10 years, but it has taken some clerks nearly 20 years to complete the program, Eftekhari said.
"In order to have the master municipal clerk bestowed upon you, you have to be a certified municipal clerk and have a combination of experience, professional and social contributions and advanced education," he said.
The rigorous requirements of the program did not deter Myers from completing it.
And it was a journey she embarked on simply because she wanted to do her job well when she was appointed city clerk in 1991.
"There is no college that can teach you what you need to know as a clerk," Myers said.
The institute's intense training taught writing skills, record keeping and how to deal with the media, Freedom of Information Act requests and open meetings law.
"The aldermen and mayor count on what I do," Myers said, agreeing that she is "bossy just like they said."
As part of her job, Myers keeps records and seals ordinances and resolutions.
"When we sign a document, put on the seal – it becomes legal," she said.
So, she strives to make sure it's accurate, often verifying information with the city's corporation counsel.
It's a job she loves, Myers said.
"It's different all the time," she said.
Now that she has completed one feat, Myers said she is taking on another – organizing the massive amount of paperwork she contends with every day into a system that anyone can use. But a new part-time assistant should help, she said.
"It's not easy," she said.