Morris-Turnberry's Michie plans retirement after 40 years - Sept. 20, 2018
BY DENNY SCOTT
Nancy Michie will be bidding adieu to her position as Administrator Clerk-Treasurer of Morris-Turnberry next year, after more than 40 years in the world of municipal administration.
Originally starting as the clerk for Morris Township in 1978, Michie said she made the decision to retire and start a new chapter of her life, but it wasn’t an easy decision to make.
“I’ll have mixed feelings about the move,” she said. “I will miss the job. That said, there is a time for everything, and I think it’s time for this change.”
Michie said she has no immediate plans for her retirement aside from spending time with family and leisure time with her husband Lloyd, but said she is contemplating some vacations later on, saying planning would be difficult as a final retirement day hadn’t been set.
That issue is a complicated one, she said, as she plans to help the municipality find her replacement, which means selecting a day as her final one isn’t possible at this point.
Michie originally signed on with Morris Township as clerk after working in the office at the Wingham Hospital.
She started her job on Sept. 1, 1978, three weeks after having her third child.
She said she had been looking for a change to allow her more time at home, but also allow her to be involved in local government and the community, which appealed to her. She felt very fortunate to get the job.
Michie has overseen a number of memorable events and changes over her municipal career, including the amalgamation of Morris and Turnberry Townships into one municipality, and she said she’s glad to have been a part of them.
When she first started, for example, she was working from home while council met in the old Morris municipal building on Morris Road. In 1985, the current Morris-Turnberry building was erected (then the Morris municipal building) which has housed council meetings, municipal records and services through 2001 when amalgamation occurred to the present.
Michie said she’s also proud to have been involved in the preparation and publishing of two history books for the municipality, something she considers a great accomplishment.
While she has been involved in a lot of changes, she has also noticed that the more things change, the more they seem to stay the same, pointing at drainage issues.
She said that Morris-Turnberry has many municipal drains and she didn’t have a great deal of experience with them when she started in 1978, but she has gradually gained significant exposure to the drainage act and drain projects. She said that gaining that experience has been of great importance to her and is a great source of pride.
While drainage files used to include dozens of papers in one of three filing cabinets in the municipality’s offices, she said that current drainage issues, with the maps, schedules and documents, take up entire filing cabinet drawers or more.
That said, the process and the issues that face drainage projects are still very much the same.
“When I started in Morris Township, one of the first issues we were dealing with was the Blyth Creek Drain, and that project was in the billing process,” she said. “Now, that same drain is being dealt with now, 40 years later.”
Michie also guided the transition to computerization in Morris Township, one of the first municipalities in the area to do so.
“We prepared tax bills for East Wawanosh and Turnberry as they hadn’t switched to computers yet,” she said.
That kind of co-operation has been a hallmark of Huron County’s municipal employees, she said.
“It’s phenomenal how, in Huron County, municipal staff work together across borders,” she said. “We share resources and knowledge and it’s a great asset to everyone involved.”
Along that same thought, Michie said, she is also very proud of the accomplishments that Morris-Turnberry and its neighbours have made (or their individual municipalities prior to amalgamation).
She has worked with 13 councils and seven heads of council, and she said she has always appreciated the co-operation and respect council members and staff have provided over the years.
She pointed to the development on the border of Morris-Turnberry and North Huron near Wingham, the North Huron and Morris-Turnberry shared services project as well as Morris-Turnberry being able to buy in to the Huron East fire department as modern successes while, in the past, Morris and Wingham worked well together on the issue of Wingham’s municipal airport.
“The town of Wingham was looking for land to build an airport in Morris,” she said.
Michie explained that Wingham ran into problems finding suitable land, and the Wingham mayor called her and said the project was being abandoned due to the lack of suitable land.
A closed road allowance would allow the project to go forward, Michie explained, and took the issue to Morris Township Council which approved it and led to in the airport being constructed.
“I was proud of how progressive the council was making that crucial decision,” she said. “It was very important for the area.”
Michie also said she is glad that the learning in her position never stopped. Even when things don’t go completely according to plan, she said, every municipal experience can be educational.
“Whether it’s drainage tribunals, Ontario Municipal Board hearings or other proceedings, they are all very productive events for the municipality,” she said. “We proceed as well as we can and it means progress for the municipality.”
Michie said her time with the municipality has left her with an appreciation for the ratepayers, staff and councils she has worked with, saying everyone works for the benefit of the municipality.