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COURTHOUSE LOSING TWO FAMILIAR FACES

Hudepohl retires from position during closed session Monday, Nov. 2

By NICK NARIGON

Iowa County Assessor Sharon Hudepohl retired effective Monday, Nov. 2.

The Iowa County Conference Board approved Hudepohl’s retirement in a closed session that night.

Iowa County Supervisor Linda Yoder, who chaired the Conference Board meeting, said Hudepohl will retire with full benefits.

“Everyone left the meeting feeling good about the outcome,” Yoder said.

Hudepohl, 59, Williamsburg, said in a phone interview with NpIC Thursday, Nov. 4, she reached the rule of 88 for IPERS, which means she can retire with full benefits without any tax deductions.

“It was just time,” Hudepohl said.

She has been the Iowa County Assessor for 21 years, starting in 1988. In total, Hudepohl has 31 years of experience working in an assessor’s office.

She started in the Mahaska County Assessor’s Office and has worked in the City of Oskaloosa assessor’s office.

Hudepohl’s neighbor was the Clarke County Assessor, and they were looking to hire a deputy assessor. Hudepohl passed the exam to become a deputy assessor and took the position in Osceola.

In 1988, Iowa County needed to hire an assessor. Hudepohl passed the necessary exam and she was hired.

A lot has changed since 1988, she said. The only computer they had then was a main frame computer. There were no PCs, she said.

“It’s amazing how far things have come in the last 20 years,” Hudepohl said.

In 1988, the assessor’s office assessed industrial machinery and equipment. Hudepohl said she was able to work closely with Iowa County’s industrial owners, something she doesn’t do anymore.

“I always enjoyed meeting people, even though a lot of people were not always happy to meet me,” Hudepohl said. “My personal goal was to treat people fairly and have things assessed equitably.”

Now that she is retired, Hudepohl has been helping her husband Don, a farmer, in the fields. She said she has been running errands in the field and running parts in town to be repaired.

She also has two granddaughters she is able to spend more time with.

“It is time to enjoy life a little bit more,” Hudepohl said.

Because Iowa County does not have a deputy assessor, by Iowa Code, Iowa County Auditor Linda Griggs is required to fill in as the interim assessor until a replacement is hired.

The Iowa County Assessor’s Office is overseen by the Conference Board. The Conference Board consists of the Iowa County Supervisors, the mayors from each town in Iowa County and a member from each school board in Iowa County.

Before hiring a new Iowa County Assessor, the Assessor’s Examining Board must meet and obtain a list of persons eligible for appointment from the state. The examining board may conduct further examination or they just forward the list to the Conference Board.

The Conference Board will meet Thursday, Nov. 12, to discuss the hiring of a new Iowa County Assessor.

Iowa County Supervisor Chair Ray Garringer said they will discuss the wage of the new assessor, how the interviewing will be conducted and other requirements of the job, such as will the assessor be required to live in Iowa County.

Clerk of courts position terminated due to 10 percent state budget cut

After 36 years in the department, Sheryl Neal is retiring as the Iowa County Clerk of Courts.

Because of a 10 percent state budget cut in the Iowa Courts system, the Iowa County Clerk of Courts position is being eliminated. Cindy Forsyth, the Benton County Clerk of Courts, will oversee the Iowa County office.

Neal’s last day is Dec. 31.

“I like working here,” Neal said. “I enjoy working with the people and my co-workers, as well as the judges and attorneys. It has been a good job.”

Neal began as a deputy clerk in the Iowa County Clerk of Courts Office in 1973. She was 22 at the time and had been married for one year to her husband Bill Neal. They had moved to Williamsburg from Cedar Rapids after Bill received a job teaching in the Williamsburg School District.

They have been in Williamsburg ever since. The Neals have two daughters, Amy Kay, Cedar Rapids, and Beth Keeney, Waterloo.

Sheryl said working for the Clerk of Courts Office is only the second job she has ever had.

She worked for Kirkwood Community College for two years prior to moving to Iowa County.

In 1987, longtime Iowa County Clerk of Courts Helen Hartin retired and the judges appointed Neal to be her replacement.

The office has seen quite a bit of change in the last 36 years, Neal said. In 1986, the state took over jurisdiction of the office instead of the county, and the position of the Clerk of Courts became an appointed position rather than an elected one.

In 1997, the office became completely computerized, and the technology has been ever changing ever since, Neal said.

The size of the office staff has also dwindled, she said. There were once seven full-time employees in the Iowa County Clerk of Courts Office, and now after Dec. 31, there will be 2.75 full-time employees, Neal said.

“The workload has increased. We will just get behind more and more,” Neal said.

As for what she will do in retirement, she said she does not know.

“I have always worked,” Neal said. “I will find something to keep busy.”

Patrick R. Grady, the new Chief Judge for the Sixth Judicial District, told the Iowa County Supervisors Oct. 30 that budget cuts make it necessary to terminate the Iowa County Clerk of Courts position.

The State of Iowa judicial system is taking a 10 percent budget cut immediately, which amounts to approximately $16 million, Grady said. Ninety-six percent of the department’s budget is personnel, he said, which means the budget cut will come in the form of employee furloughs and job reductions.

Grady said while employees in the Iowa County Clerk of Courts office will have some furloughs, the clerk of courts position is the only one being eliminated.

“Hopefully we won’t be required to take any more staff from Iowa County,” Grady said.

He noted the Iowa County Clerk of Courts office will be open five days a week.

UPDATED November 12, 2009 10:21 AM

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