Calling it a career
After 24 years in Craig, Bruce Nelson hangs up his spreadsheets
Even back in his schooldays, numbers have always come easy to Bruce Nelson.
They’ve served a large role in his life as the finance director for the city of Craig for the last 24 years, and the city of Aberdeen, South Dakota for 14 years prior.
Now, those same numbers are telling him it’s time to retire.
After 24 years as the city’s finance director, Nelson is hanging up his spreadsheets Friday, April 2 and heading off into retirement, where he will help his son run Spa Country in Craig part-time, and when he’s not staying busy he’ll kick back and relax, traveling with his wife to places they haven’t been able to experience over the last 24 years.
“It’s time just to do it,” Nelson said during an interview from his office at City Hall. “I’m 68 years old, so it’s time to just kick back a little bit. I’ll still be staying busy helping my son run his business, which has just taken off lately. It’s tough for him to find good, reliable part-time work.
“But I’ve been living here for 24 years and my wife and I just haven’t really gone a lot of places,” Nelson added. “So that’s what we’ve decided. We’d like to go to a lot more places, whether that’s near or far. I’ve never been to Yellowstone and its 8 hours away. There’s places in Moab we’d like to get to, take a few days and go here, go there and experience things.”
Prior to coming to Craig in October 1996, Nelson worked almost exclusively in his home state of South Dakota. Eyeing a change of pace, Nelson pursued the position in Craig, where he ultimately set down roots, raised a family and built a career.
“I was just looking for something different; I wanted to get out of the Midwest,” Nelson said. “This job happened to pop up and I thought, ’well, what the heck.’ So, I flew in, interviewed, looked around and thought this would be nice. I thought it would be kind of nice to be in the mountains.”
During his time in Craig overseeing the city’s finances, Nelson has enjoyed the challenges thrown at him. From worrying about having enough revenue to provide services, to ensuring enough was budgeted for a certain project, Nelson has been the man behind the curtain on a lot of decisions made by the city and councilors.
“The hardest part over the years has been trying to make sure there’s enough revenue to provide services to the community,” Nelson said. “ There have been a couple of times over the years — whether it’s the county or city — an increase in sales taxes has occurred to continue to provide those services to the community. Sometimes as consumers, we forget it costs money to provide services to the roads, police protection, parks, etc. We kind of take it for granted.
“That said, with those challenges, what I really enjoyed was trying to take the tax dollar and stretching it as far as I could, making sure we’re providing those services so that we’re not wasting any money. That was the biggest challenge to make sure that happens.”
With his official retirement day looming, Nelson says he’s proud when he reflects on his time working for the city of Craig for nearly 25 years.
“I just did my job every day and made sure I did what was asked of me each day,” Nelson said. “That’s key; I did my job and made sure there was sufficient funds available to provide services. That was always my goal, and I think I accomplished that.”
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Transactions recorded in the month of December, 2021.