In the end, it was networking that did the trick. Riverside has a new village clerk?”thanks in part to a former intern of Riverside Village Manager Kathleen Rush. The Riverside village board voted unanimously at its special meeting last Friday to hire LaGrange Park resident Arlene Blaha as Riverside’s new clerk, replacing Christine Bruton.

Bruton turned in her resignation letter last November, agreeing to stay on until Rush could find her replacement. That time period stretched into months after Rush kept coming up empty.

“I was dying,” said Rush of the search process. “We advertised it a number of times and recruited people. I had preferred that it would go to a Riverside resident, and I interviewed several people and made offers to a couple. But they didn’t want to do it.”

The reasons?”sporadic hours, night meetings?”were the same ones that prompted the village to seek a referendum in 2004 to make the clerk’s position an appointed, rather than elected, one. It was thought that opening up the job to a bigger field would solve the problem. So far, it hasn’t.

Finally, LaGrange Park Assistant Village Manager Melissa Heil, a Riverside resident and former intern of Rush’s, came through with a prospect in Blaha. Heil and Blaha knew each other as fellow alto soloists at a local church.

Blaha, who in 2002 retired from her position as executive director of the Autism Society of Illinois, saw the opportunity as a continuation of her career serving others.

“My field has always been in ‘community,'” said Blaha, a registered nurse who holds a master’s degree in home health from the University of Michigan School of Nursing.

From 1978-83, she was executive director of the Community Nursing Service of DuPage County before heading off to academia. From 1984-89, Blaha was a lecturer and home health coordinator at University of Michigan. From 1989-98, she was clinical associate professor at the University of South Carolina College of Nursing.

“She’s detail-oriented, gregarious and administerially will be fine in terms of processing stuff and making sure things are done correctly,” Rush said. “It’s a toilsome job with respect to the paperwork, and if you don’t have that proclivity, it’s tough.”

The Riverside village clerk, per ordinance, is paid a fixed biweekly salary of $375.