MENTONE — Longtime Mentone Clerk-Treasurer Barb Ross announced at a recent meeting of the town board that she will not be re-filing for another term after about three decades of being the town’s administrative heartbeat. However, fulfilling her commitment and retiring to her Mentone home may not immediately be in the cards unless another town resident steps up to fill her shoes.
“I’ve been here 30 years, I think that’s probably long enough,” she said. “I didn’t want to commit to another four years. But, if they don’t find anybody, I’ll stay on until they do.”
One possibility discussed at a recent town board meeting is to have Ross stay with the title of deputy clerk while the town searches for a new candidate.
Ross’ replacement must be a resident of the town and must file with the Kosciusko County Clerk’s Office by noon on Aug. 1 to be eligible for the November election. Ross said that her official term ends Jan. 1 at noon. She said after that, a candidate could be selected by way of a caucus.
The 1953 Mentone High School graduate took the reins when former Clerk Treasurer Kate Whetstone moved away from the area.
“It’s been interesting,” she said “There have been a lot of upgrades, but it’s getting more difficult. The state board of accounts always wants more.”
Ross shoulders virtually all the administrative duties of the town, which includes preparing and dispersing water bills to the residents and coordinating town employee payroll. Currently, she’s focused on the responsibility of preparing the town’s upcoming budget.
“It’s enlightening and there have been a lot of changes since I came,” she said. “I’ve worked with three fire chiefs and I don’t know how many different township trustees and each one comes with something different.”
Being a life-long Mentone resident gave her an edge in the job, she said. “I think being from town and knowing the people in town has been a help to the town employees,” she said. “At one point, I could go down the street and tell you everyone who lived in each house.”
Ross was widowed from husband Jerry before taking the position and has placed her stamp on the job. During her tenure, she has seen the advent of the Internet and a constant conversion of communication systems from paper filing formats to electronic files kept on computers. She said she prefers the old way, but has adapted accordingly.
“I don’t mind the work at all,” she said. “It gets under your skin once in awhile, but that’s any place you work. It’s not bad, but it’s just time. They just need someone younger to take an interest in it.”