Getting the job done
Craig city clerk helps people in every facet of her life
December 24, 2007
Craig — A man enters the office, has a couple of questions, writes a check – asks who to make it out to – gets his answers and leaves.
A woman comes into the office wondering where she can find somebody, gets her answer and leaves.
“It’s not very exciting, but it’s OK,” Shirley Seely said.
Her decisive knowledge about running Craig makes Seely appear grounded in her job as the city clerk and personnel director.
But the story is longer, more diverse.
This is her day job:
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In addition to administrative duties, she manages city elections, from coordinating with the county for voting machines to overseeing every polling station.
“I’m pretty much in charge of everything (that has to do with elections) except actually counting the votes,” Seely said.
Her office is fairly large, with another room through a door on the side. Desk space wraps around one side of the room and extends into middle.
Two wide closets spread across the back wall.
Neat stacks of papers lay side-by-side, next to binders, books and legal pads.
Despite the neatness of everything, Seely apologizes for the mess.
“Don’t even think about opening the closets,” she said.
Although she deals with people’s issues, sometimes she misses the direct public interaction she had as a location manager with Moffat County State Bank more than 25 years ago.
“I like to work with the public a lot,” Seely said. “In this job, I don’t get to work with the public a lot.”
She has other forums for that desire.
These are her other priorities:
Other people to take care of, including, at rare times, herself.
And those priorities get her away from the city job’s grind. Sometimes out and out away from Craig, sometimes in and in under a blanket in her den.
With the city, Selly is a figure few in the community see or hear about publicly.
For two weeks out of the year, though, she takes off from work to be a ranch mom for hunters and friends who stay on the land she and her husband own, which has been in the family for about 40 years.
“I do all the cooking,” Seely said. “Hunters will eat anything and everything. A lot of people wonder why I want to go do it, but it’s a nice change of pace and we’ve met lots of our best friends in the whole world doing that.”
Her least favorite out-of-towner state: California.
Seely is fond of vacationers from the Lone Star State.
“Some of our best friends are from Texas,” she said.
Seely, who identifies herself as “fairly religious” – “I’m not an atheist anyway,” she said – also talked about her opportunity once each week to teach at her church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
“Each year, we have a manual from one of our prophets and we try to learn from that,” Seely said. “A better way to describe it that I’m a discussion leader rather than a teacher.”
The lessons come from the life experiences written in the manuals, Seely added.
“They lead by example,” she said. “They’re so encompassing, it’s hard to think of one thing they teach. Really just good moral character, which to me is how we all should live.”
For the most part, Seely has lived in Craig her whole life.
She was born in McCook, Neb., and wound up here by first grade. She’s never had any thoughts of moving away, she said.
“I’ve often wondered, if I were to live somewhere else, how I would go about choosing another place,” Seely said. “We have pretty much everything we need right here.”
That is, except shopping and the arts, she added.
“I guess that gives us the opportunity to go somewhere else, then,” Seely said.
To Denver, for example, so she and her friends can take in a show at the theater, maybe “Les Miserables.”
The adaptation of Victor Hugo’s novel might be her favorite of the several plays she and her friends went to see, she said.
“It’s the music.”
Then there are the times Seely wants to herself, the times she could wait to interact with the public and maybe put off that drive to Denver until next week.
Those are the times she likes to sew.
“I do a lot of sewing and quilting,” Seely said. “My mother and grandmother always did, and I guess they passed it on to me.”
It’s another one her pace changes.
“Sometimes I like to sit down and take a little time for myself,” Seely said. “I guess it relaxes me or something, I don’t know.”
She likes to relax in her house on the ranch, she said.
Moffat County makes her happy, and, for better or worse, it’s home.
“I don’t have any regrets,” Seely said. “I haven’t ever lived anywhere but Craig, but I always enjoyed the countryside, the people here. It’s a nice place to be.”
Even so, she’s surprised her four daughters stuck around.
“I’m very, definitely surprised everyone stuck around,” Seely said. “Still, it’s very nice to have them.”
And it’s very nice to have her grandchildren around, she said.
Although she and her husband never had any sons, now she has grandsons to spoil, “and that’s the next best thing,” Seely said.
So when something takes you to City Hall, remember Seely, just about anonymous in her large office (upstairs and in the back of the building) except for her longstanding Craig heritage.
Because when she runs City Council meetings, elections and the day-to-day city administration, Seely will do her best to take care of you, like when she cooks for the hunters, helps lead her congregation at church, quilts for herself and spoils her grandsons.
And even answers questions with a smile.
“I don’t feel like I’m overwhelmed,” Seely said. “As you can see, I’m in charge of a lot of things, I guess, but I enjoy it. I like to take care of people.”
Collin Smith can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 209, or firstname.lastname@example.org