Photo by Fred Pollard
After working for the village for over 25 years, Tina Carpenter has retired as village clerk. Carpenter says she is looking forward to traveling and spending time with her grandchildren. At right: Carpenter in 1997.
SOUTH ROXANA – After doing her part to keep the wheels of South Roxana turning for years, Tina Carpenter is ready to hang up her engineer’s cap.
“I will miss my job, but I am also looking forward to spending more time with my grandchildren,” she said.
Since 1992, Carpenter, 52, has served as the South Roxana village clerk. Before that, she served as police clerk, attaining a 25-plus year career with the village.
“I started there in 1988,” she said. “Street Superintendent Eldon Stearns was working in front of my house and said I should go in and apply for the clerk position.
“Back then, we didn’t have computers, so everything was done by hand…handwritten or typed.”
Over time, the mayor also began using Carpenter for administrative duties, and she soon was assisting village clerk Thelma Zeller as deputy clerk. When Zeller announced her retirement in 1992, she knew just the perfect candidate to take over village duties.
“(Mayor) Danny Wilcox told me he wanted me to take Thelma’s place, and I said I couldn’t,” Carpenter said. “He said, yes you can; that is why Thelma picked you as her replacement.”
She says being the clerk brings with it a certain stigma, and creates interesting situations regarding how residents approach her and how much Carpenter actually was “in the know.”
“When you are police clerk, everyone thinks you know everything going on around town,” she says, laughing. “When you are village clerk, people will share everything with you, assuming you already know all about it. I didn’t know as much as they thought I did.
“I appreciate the confidence Mayor Danny Wilcox and Mayor Kenny Beasley had in me.”
Actually, this is Carpenter’s modesty at work. A municipality’s clerk wears many hats and often can be found spinning multiple plates … everything from putting together board agendas to acting as line of communication between departments to being the “go-to” person when pipes burst or ceiling tiles fall at village hall.
“During one particularly bad storm we had branches down and brush everywhere,” she says. “There was no power, so I couldn’t do my office duties. (Current Police Chief) Bob Coles, who was sergeant at the time, got a dump truck, and he and I began clearing away brush.
“Everyone pitches in. That’s just what you do in a small community.”
A 1979 graduate of Roxana High School, Carpenter’s family moved to the area in 1964, and she grew up in Roxana. She looks back on those years with fondness.
“Back then, Roxana was the place to live,” she says with a nostalgic smile.
Her husband, Dennis, retired in April after 36 years with South Roxana from his position as police chief. Tina says the couple is looking forward to doing more traveling, including annual trips to Lake of the Ozarks with her family, which includes four children and six grandchildren.
“We don’t get to eat together much while we are there,” she says. “Our family has gotten so big, and it is hard to reserve a table for that many people.”
She also volunteers with the school district, assisting several hours a week at South Roxana Elementary, and says she loves working with the children.
And through it all, South Roxana has been and continues to be … home.
“The friends that I grew up with here are still the friends I spend time with,” she says.
The village is waiting until after the spring elections to determine how to fill Carpenter’s spot as village clerk.