By RICK HAYES firstname.lastname@example.org
---- — BLUFORD — Positive, caring and considerate are some of the words Bluford Village President Norman Vance use to describe longtime Village Clerk Sandra Richardson.
After 35 years of service, Richardson announced her retirement earlier this week. She will be replaced by Khristi Spurlock.
“Her face beams, her voice is calming and her laughter gives you peace of mind. You can't help but smile when she is in the room,” Vance said of Richardson during a retirement party Tuesday night at village hall.
“She is very compassionate, always willing to give up time to anyone needing something. She shows trust and gives advice based on experience, not opinions,” Vance continued, noting since he has been the village president the past eight years “she always makes everything feel like it will be alright.”
Richardson became the village clerk in 1978, and during that time, the village built a new village hall, constructed a new sewer plant, and a 160,000 gallon water storage tank was erected.
“When I joined this board as a trustee we didn't have two pennies to rub together,” said Board member Mike Bullard. “Our roads were horrible and we had raw sewage running down the ditches in our streets. We had potential customers begging for city water or gas and we could not afford to run lines to connect them. We went into debt, tore up all our roads and built a sewage system.”
He added, “We struggled and struggled over the years. And then we noticed with each challenge or struggle it got a little easier. Finances started to fall in place, services to our residents got better, reliable utilities came into place and we had great roads … where we are today as a village is the result of a dream and goals. It was followed by trials, tribulations and failures.”
Bullard said in those dark days, villagers would be greeted with a heart-warming smile and kind words.
“It has been Sandy's love for people, her incredible desire to provide the best possible for our residents that has paved this road in her journey and the incredible success of the village,” he added.
Richardson was presented with a plaque and a rocking chair by village officials, although village attorney Mike Reed of Centralia made light of that fact.
“Apparently you don't know Sandy like I know her,” he said, offering his own gift of gambling chips — an obvious reference to her passion for visiting riverboats.
“I really liked dealing with the people,” Richardson said. “There were a variety of them over the years, including different nationalities, elderly and young, and everything in between. Everyone has a different view about everything. When you talk to people, you find out what they want. If it's not exactly what you can give them, the majority of them learn to compromise.”
She added, “We've done a lot of things over the years.”
During Richardson's tenure, she served under six village presidents and numerous board members.
“I felt like it's where I belonged,” Richardson said.
Richardson said she is going to enjoy retirement, visiting the riverboats, reading, and enjoying her eight grandchildren.