by Lisa Tome
You'd be hard pressed to find anyone more dedicated to the Town of North East than Anne Fazio.
Fazio, who has worked as the Town of North East's clerk/treasurer since August 1990, is retiring the first week of October. She had worked in the banking industry for a dozen years, became interested in working for town government after reading a newspaper article about a town clerk in the county who was retiring.
"I thought it would be interesting and the job was close to home," she said. She was hired by town administrator Melissa Cook-Mackenzie, former mayor Chris Meekins, and former commissioner Debbie Cain. "I was very excited. No more working Friday nights and Saturdays," she said.
Fazio, a mother of three and grandmother of one, lived in Conowingo at the time.
The Town has grown and changed significantly during her tenure. When she started working there, North East had 15 employees. Now, 27 people are employed by the town. The town hall was at Jackson House in the town park. Now it's on Main Street. The only computerized accounting was the water bills. Fazio oversaw the town payroll, which was completed by hand.
"I learned on the job," she said. The budget has grown to the current $5.7 million annually.
She has seen a number of significant changes come to the town including the construction of North East Station and the Flying J travel plaza as well as numerous other businesses. North East Isles has built out, there have been renovations and expansions to the town's water plants, the streetscape project completion, and a major revitalization of the downtown.
In addition to her duties as clerk/treasurer she has also been active with many other events and committees. She has served on the March of Dimes committee for years and chaired that event. She represented the town with the North East Chamber of Commerce, coordinated the annual auction for the Yesterdays celebration, served on the Cecil County Tourism Committee, organized the town Halloween party, and Christmas tree lighting, chaired the Cecil County Christmas Parade, oversaw the town appreciation dinner, Flag Day, and Cecil County Salute to Veterans. "A lot of good people help with these events. A core group of volunteers work all year long for the parade and the salute," said Fazio.
Fazio is leaving with mixed emotions.
"I want to have fun. I turned 60 August 23. I have worked full time for years. My husband, Bill, is retired and we want to have fun," said Fazio.
The couple is planning to travel to Canada and Italy. They also plan to go to Charleston S.C. and Savannah, Ga. She also plans to attend school events with her granddaughter and spend more time with her mother.
"And I want to read something other than a report," she laughed.
She also plans to be active in the community. She will continue to volunteer with the Good Shepherd Parish Lazarus Committee, which makes food for funerals. She plans to expand her role with a bereavement group. She also wants to get involved with Cecil's Historical Society.
Fazio's departure will leave a vacancy which will be difficult to fill.
She said she enjoyed her job and never minded staying late at work to make whatever she was doing the best it could be. "Mayor McKnight and the board are pro employee. They want to retain employees for stability and continuity," she said. She is one of seven of town employees who have served the Town for nearly 25 years. There are several who have worked for North East for 30 years or longer. "There will be a lot of changes coming in the next five years because people have been here so long," she said.
She said she enjoyed her job.
"The best thing is being able to help somebody. To somebody else, the problem may have been very small but to that person it was important," she said. "I may not have been able to help them, but I could point them in the right direction."
She said she struggled with some of the work issues. "The tough time is when you terminate water service. That's very hard on the staff. We have compassion. We feel for people," she said.
"I will miss my coworkers and the public. I have met some really wonderful people, especially the World War II Vets. They are so unique and one of a kind. We will never see anything like them again. When I first came (to work for the town) the World War II Vets were very active in the community," she said.
"I loved my job. I'm surprised to be leaving so early. My husband and I both lost a spouse. Time is fleeting," she said. "I am sad to leave. I've had some of the best experiences here. I've driven through flood waters, had dinner at the governor's mansion, and one day I picked up the phone and it was (Senator) Barbara Mikulski. Those are the kinds of experiences I wouldn't have had."
The search is on for a replacement for North East. That person will serve as the Director of Finance and Administration for the town.