Kathy Larson: A life of community service
December 24, 2014
Craig — Craig City Clerk Kathy Larson lives a life of service.
"We were a volunteering family growing up, and it was a real focus," Larson said.
After growing up in Denver, she attended Colorado State University in Fort Collins and moved to Hayden. She's been there ever since.
First, she worked part-time jobs in Hayden for non-profits or service-related organizations, such as the Visiting Nurses Association and the Hayden Public Library. In fact, she was on the board that got the library built. She worked also for five years at the bank in Hayden.
For the past 27 ½ years, Larson worked for the city of Craig. She seems to constantly bounce between human resources and city clerk duties. It makes sense; the two departments are "sort of combined," likely for budgetary reasons, she said.
For the past year, Larson has done the jobs of human resources coordinator/deputy clerk and human resources director/city clerk. After she was appointed city clerk at the Nov. 11 Craig City Council meeting, City Manager Jim Ferree told her to advertise for the human resources coordinator/deputy clerk position.
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Larson said she's had several in-house applicants apply for the position and is just in the beginning of the hiring process.
But over the past year, and really, over the past 25 years, what Larson has done for the city wouldn't fit on one of Harry Potter's longest scrolls. There's not a whole lot she hasn't done in the Yampa Valley.
"I haven't snowboarded," she admitted.
The human resources coordinator arranges payroll, benefits, pension, worker's compensation and certain steps in the hiring process for city employees.
"There's a little clause in there that says it backs up the city clerk in the city clerk's absence," Larson said. "The HR coordinator will learn how to do council meetings, they'll learn how to put the agenda together and put it on the website."
As city clerk, Larson enlists many other duties.
She said it mainly consists of city council, and taking care of the agenda and minutes. But there's also making sure ordinance rules are followed and handling liquor licenses. The city clerk conducts municipal elections and licenses city vehicles, and she handles long-term disability and death claims. The list truly does go on.
Larson dropped out of CSU before earning a degree, but returned to academia at age 50 and earned a bachelor's in business administration from Regis University. She said the school's accessibility for remote students made it possible.
Colorado Northwestern Community College, where Larson (more or less) got her associate's degree, began as a modular home sitting atop a mound of dirt across from the present-day VNA hospital.
"I got my degree through, I did some online; just the way we did it back then was crazy, but I was determined to get it," she said. "I took some classes in Steamboat, I took some here." She said classes were offered on VHS tape via U.S. Postal Service and some came through PBS from Denver.
"It was just, you could get a degree, but let me tell you, it was a challenge," Larson said.
When she's not virtually conquering a degree or holding the city of Craig together, Larson said she enjoys talking to fellow breast cancer survivors in the Yampa Valley. A survivor for 21 years, she said "there's nothing like having someone to talk to who's been through it."
Larson was also a key player in the core group that launched Moffat County United Way's Bridges out of Poverty program.
After 25 years of driving between Hayden and Craig, Larson said she wouldn't have it any other way.
"I don't mind the drive at all; it's so pretty," she said. "Even after 25 years I still love this job. There's just so much variety in every day that you come to work."