Arlene Blaha, who has served as Riverside’s village clerk since April 2006, has announced she’s retiring at the end of September.
“It’s been a real pleasure, and I’m going to miss it,” said Blaha, who wants to make more time to be able to visit and care for her older sister, who lives in North Carolina.
“I have to be more available and need more time, if I’m needed there, to go there,” she said.
Always a light-hearted presence at village board meetings and a talented singer who was known for her rendition of “The National Anthem” during Riverside’s annual July 3 Concert in the Park, Blaha was a nurse by profession.
Although she received her master’s degree in public health from the University of Michigan, her stint as village clerk was her only job in government. She taught nursing at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, the University of Michigan and the University of South Carolina before moving to the Chicago area to run Community Nursing Service in DuPage County.
She left that agency to become director of the Autism Society of Illinois, retiring from that post in 2002. A LaGrange Park resident, Blaha learned of the opening in Riverside from a fellow vocalist in a local church choir. Her colleague had spent time as an intern at Riverside Village Hall with former Village Manager Kathleen Rush.
Riverside’s clerk had resigned in November 2005, and Rush had little luck finding a candidate for the job because of the sporadic hours, the evening meetings and low pay. By village statute, the job pays just $9,750 per year, although the village’s 2012 budget indicated that she was paid $12,595 in 2011.
In 2004, Riverside residents voted to make the village clerk an appointed position. Between 1999 and 2004, the village went through five different clerks, and it was difficult to get anyone to run for the office.
The village clerk is now appointed by the village president with the consent of the village board. However, Village Manager Peter Scalera said he may recommend that the duties of the clerk be rolled into the village manager’s office. Scalera’s assistant, Cathy Haley, serves as the deputy village clerk.
“It may be an opportunity to evaluate the role of that position and whether those duties can be absorbed by consolidating it with the manager’s office,” Scalera said.
Blaha will officiate as village clerk for the last time at the village board’s regularly scheduled business meeting on Sept. 17 although her last day at work will be Sept. 28.