ALPENA - The Alpena County Courthouse is going to be a little bit different when it opens after the New Year holiday, as it will be without long-time Treasurer Joelyn McCallum. After working for the county for more than 30 years, including more than 20 as treasurer, McCallum is stepping down and entering retirement.
McCallum said retirement has been on her mind for several years and was considering not running when her previous term was up, but with all of the uncertainty and economic challenges facing the county she was urged by some of the commissioners to run in 2008 and ultimately was elected to help guide the county through the recession. She knew then it would be her last four years.
"I had some community leaders come to me and it was a very difficult time for counties all over the state and I felt like I could do it for four more year," McCallum said. "In the back of my mind though I was like don't ask me again, because I believe in commitment and I just didn't want to do that for another four year on top of that."
She prepared the county for her departure by helping craft a balanced budget, build a solid fund balance and mentor newly-elected Treasurer Kim Ludlow. She said she is excited to spend time doing things with her husband, which she hasn't been able to do because of the demands of being treasurer.
"We have never really had much of an opportunity to travel together," McCallum said. "It has always been 'we can't go this week, we can't go this day because there is a meeting or other business.' It will be just nice to be able to do what we want to do without having the routine interrupting. We are going south this winter for a little vacation and then in the summer are considering going to Alaska for two months to try to get into the routine of not having a routine."
McCallum said she has made a great number of friends inside the county and within the community. She said the most difficult part will be not seeing those people on a daily basis. She said the memories she has made over the last three decades always will be held close to her heart.
"Since I came in 1976 I have never really considered it a job. Every day was different and I met a lot of different people," McCallum said. "It has been more of a journey than a job. The people I have met have grown as a family. We have had marriages together, had children together, we've had grandchildren together and that has been what working for the county has been about to me. We are a family here and there are not a lot of communities that have that."
McCallum said Lulow has been a regular in the office and she has been doing her best to prepare her for her new role. She said she will still help answer questions and provide assistance when needed until Ludlow becomes settled. She said she has learned much while in office and is proud of what she has accomplished.
"I have a certain amount of satisfaction that I have made a difference in the community," McCallum said."I feel I have provided a service and it seems the people are appreciative of that. The friendships I have made will also be something I can take with me. We are still going to live in Alpena, so it isn't like we won't be seeing each other, but now I can have my cup of coffee at home instead of at my desk."
Steve Schulwitz can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5689.