MONTVILLE, NJ - Trudy Atkinson, Montville Township’s municipal clerk, will be retiring as of July 31, and the township will be losing one of its most efficient and dedicated employees.
She is pleased to say that she served under nine mayors and five administrators. “I enjoyed working for Montville Township for these past 24 years!” Atkinson stated.
A municipal clerk has an important and difficult job, but Atkinson goes about her work with a quiet, efficient confidence.
Her job description states that she is a secretary to the municipal corporation and custodian of the municipal seal and all the minutes, books, deeds, bonds, contracts, and archival records.
She is the secretary to the governing body preparing meeting agendas and being present at all meetings of the governing body, keeping a journal of the proceedings of every meeting, retaining the original copies of all ordinances and resolutions, and recording the minutes of every meeting.
She serves as the chief administrative office in all elections held in the municipality, serves as the chief registrar of voters in the municipality, serves as the administrative officer responsible for the acceptance of applications for licenses and permits and the issuance of licenses and permits, serves as coordinator and records manager responsible for implementing local archives, and records retention programs.
Atkinson said that her responsibilities also involve event planning, public relations, publications, and coordinating with board and commission members.
She said, “You get to meet and deal with many people including residents, attorneys, professionals, lawmakers, etc. The job is very rewarding, and the best part is interacting with the public and being able to help them.”
Atkinson told a story about why the job is all worth it. She said, “About 12 years ago, an elderly woman, who lived in Longview, wanted to register to vote. The deadline to register was very close, and she had no way to get here to fill out the form. I offered to bring it to her on my way home from work. I did, and she was so happy! She wanted me to stay for tea. I knew I had to get home to my kids to help them with their homework, but I also knew this lady was very lonely and just wanted someone to talk to. So I stayed for tea, and I will never forget how happy it made her.”
Atkinson added, “Even though working for municipal government is a big responsibility, moments like this are what it is all about!”
Atkinson lived her entire life in Montville Township. She attended William Mason Elementary School, Lazar Middle School, and Montville Township High School (MTHS).
In high school, Atkinson was a twirler, a member of the Future Business Leaders of America, and a member of the National Honor Society. In her junior and senior years at MTHS, she was part of the work-study program and worked in accounting in a business in Parsippany.
She then went on to Montclair State majoring in business and accounting education. She taught business and accounting at Summit High School for three years.
After getting married in 1984 and adopting two children, Atkinson left teaching to be home with her family.
When it was time to go back to work, she did not want to go back to teaching, and in 1993, she got a job as an accounting clerk in the Montville Township finance department.
At this job, she became friends with Fran Vanderhoof, former Montville Township CFO, John Rosellini, former Montville Township mayor, and Gladys Jarombek, former township clerk. They all encouraged her to take classes to become a registered municipal clerk.
In 1998, Atkinson became an assistant municipal clerk, and in 1999, she became the township clerk when Jarombek retired. “It’s a big job,” she said.
Explaining Montville Township’s municipal government, Atkinson said, “It runs well, and all of the employees go out of their way to help people.”
Her father was raised in Boonton, and he built the family’s house in Montville. Atkinson now lives in the house next door to where she grew up. Her maiden name is Klein.
Her father was an avid hiker and made sure all of his children and grandchildren hiked up Pyramid Mountain and visited Tripod Rock. Atkinson encourages everyone to hike up to Tripod Rock located off of Boonton Avenue, Montville Township/Kinnelon. She said, “You can google its location.” Hanging in her office, Atkinson has a picture of her father standing next to Tripod Rock.
She remembers Montville Township having cow fields across from Lazar Middle School and remembers one of her favorite things was ice skating every winter on Lake Montowac with her friends.
She explained that the township is more built up now and that the old community center is now the youth center. The township also built the new municipal building, new first aid squad building, new public safety building, new public library, and new senior center. The site of the old municipal building is now the Board of Education office.
Her favorite things to do are read, walk, bike ride, and enjoy her beagle and two cats that she adopted from the Montville Township Animal Shelter. She is also a big fan of the New York Mets.
When she travels, she likes to go to Florida to visit her family. After retiring, she will move there to be near her sister, niece, and her son. If she gets another job, she will be looking for one that will allow her to help people and serve the public but she said, “with no night time meetings!”
Her other sister lives in Stanhope, NJ, and her daughter may be moving to California.
Atkinson is excited about the 150th anniversary of Montville Township. Having grown up in town, she has fond memories and is happy that the township is celebrating its history.
She remembers as a third grader in William Mason that her class went on a class trip to the Montville School House Museum. It was an annual class trip, and the students had a chance to see what life was like in the early years of the township. For the anniversary, some artifacts can be seen in the display case in the municipal building.
The township will be having a Montville Day type celebration in honor of its 150th anniversary in October.
Atkinson is also a member of the Montville Fire Department Ladies Auxiliary. She has been a member for 22 years. The auxiliary helps the firemen on the scene of a fire by providing coffee and refreshments. They also help with fund raising, including a scholarship to a MTHS student living in district #1. To apply, a student must write an essay on the meaning of volunteerism.
Atkinson is also a lifelong member of the Montville United Methodist Church where she was a Sunday school teacher and member of the handbell choir for many years.
She has met two of her best friends while working for Montville, Fran Vanderhoof, former CFO and Kelly Kehoe, recreation supervisor. She has a life time friend Robin, who she met in middle school, and a good friend and neighbor Kathy.
When asked what is one thing most people do not know about you, Atkinson said, “Well, everyone knows I love strawberries, but a lot of people don’t know and always try to guess my middle name!”
When Atkinson looks back at her career, she said, “Everyone was very good to me.” She also said that she believes the township always tries to do what is right for the town.
Atkinson added, “I will miss the current administration and Township Committee members. It has been very nice working with them – sometimes stressful – but mostly very nice!”
Victor Canning, township administrator, had these kind words to say about Atkinson. “I must say municipal clerks clearly do not get the recognition they deserve. Trudy, truly is a gem, or as they say “the salt of the Earth.” She is the human “central processing unit,” much like a modern computer for Montville Township. Everything has to go through the municipal clerk. She also is a local historian, as all municipal clerks are, but she is so humble about it. Words can’t express the gratitude I have for Trudy. She will be missed so very much, but we wish her well in retirement.”
Mayor James Sandham added, “Trudy is like a wedding planner for the Township Committee. She performs all the preparations, handles all the invites and correspondence, puts together information so the Township Committee members are prepared, puts us in our places, keeps track of everything, and keeps everything on track! And she does this twice a month, every month and every day in between meetings. She has been invaluable in helping the Township Committee achieve the successes we have!”
When Trudy Atkinson retires, she will be greatly missed. Trudy will also miss Montville, but she is looking forward to a new adventure in life.