Mer Rouge is losing their city clerk of the past seven years, Jan Nelson, and according to Mayor Johnny McAdams, she'll be missed more than the typical town employee.
“I've always called her 'my very able city clerk.' There's nothing she can't do,” McAdams said.
Nelson began working as Mer Rouge's city clerk in 2005. Although she'd be happy to remain, she'll soon be moving to Monroe with her husband, due to his job being transfered.
When Nelson reflects back on the time she's been employed as city clerk, she has fond memories of the people in the community. When the topic of her farewell is mentioned, she finds it hard to comment without fighting back tears.
"These people are like family to me," she said. "If one of the water customers died, I'd go to their funeral and cry like I'd known them for 100 years."
While Nelson was employed as city clerk, she witnessed considerable progressions within its walls.
"When I started, we did everything by hand, not on computers," she said. "Water bills were done on the computer, but that was it."
Although Mer Rouge's population is small, with a population of 628 in the 2010 Census, Nelson said she stays busy with the job's day-to-day activities. After waking up at 5 a.m. every day to exercise at the Fit4Life boot camp, she arrives at City Hall at 8 a.m.
"I stay pretty busy. It's never the same thing," she said. "I'll get calls throughout the day about street lights, dogs and traffic tickets. There are a few boring times, but they are few and far between."
Nelson said she's also currently collecting delinquent property taxes and selling cemetery plots. There's one more task she's currently undertaking, that's so important, it will affect everyone in Mer Rouge.
Nelson is training her replacement, Patti Gregory, a local resident who lives just over a block from the City Hall.
"The third times the charm," Nelson said, referring to Gregory being the third person she's trained lately. "Patti will stay because she's got it in her blood."
Nelson was referring to Gregory's ancestors who've not only worked as Mer Rouge city clerks. Lillie Grimes, Gregory's grandmother, was city clerk from 1959-1980. Jean Blackard, Gregory's aunt, was employed as the city clerk from 1980-2005.
"Jean trained me for two weeks," Nelson said.
Gregory, who worked at Prairie View Academy for 10 years, is happy to be Nelson's replacement, although she knows she'll have some "large shoes to fill."
"She is married to this job," Gregory said. "She doesn't leave for long on her lunch break and even though the sign on the door says we close at 4 p.m., she stays until 5 p.m."
McAdams said Nelson will be missed.
"Jan serves on the board with the Mer Rouge Beautification Committee and the Oak Woods of Mer Rouge Rehab," he said. "She's also the president of the Mer Rouge Lions Club. The City Clerk is the face of the community, and she's gone above and beyond to show that."
Nelson said she always wanted to be available for the mayor and the people of Mer Rouge, whenever they needed her.
"It's going to be exciting and interesting to move on [ Nelson is hoping to get on with the Monroe municipality], but I see myself returning often," she said. "I promised Johnny I would. I love my mayor and I love Mer Rouge."