ELLSWORTH — Heidi Grindle, Ellsworth’s city clerk since 2005, has been named Clerk of the Year by the Maine Town and City Clerks’ Association.
“I had no idea that I had been nominated,” said Grindle, who received the prize at the association’s annual meeting this week.
“I didn’t even know where to begin or what to say. Usually that’s not like me. I felt like I should’ve thanked the staff that nominated me, but I was just in total shock. It was completely unexpected.”
This is the first time an Ellsworth clerk has received the award, which has been given annually since 1991. Patricia Gray, who served as town clerk in Bar Harbor for over a decade, won the award in 2017.
Grindle said the award has been “a big recharging moment” in a year filled with uncertainties, such as changes in election laws and personnel shifts at City Hall.
“To have that kind of confirmation that the public believes in me and that the staff believes in me and my council is behind me is just really encouraging,” she said.
Grindle was born in California, but moved to Blue Hill when she was 5 and lived there for 16 years before marrying and moving to Ellsworth and finally to Surry, where she now resides.
Being a clerk was not originally on Grindle’s radar. She studied accounting in college and then switched to travel and tourism.
“I thought that’s what I was going to do with my life,” Grindle said.
She got a job at a travel agency. The owner of the agency was involved at City Hall and encouraged Grindle to apply when a part-time secretarial position opened up in 1996.
Grindle got the job, which eventually turned into a full-time position. Over the years, she worked as a tax clerk and then as assistant deputy treasurer, finally taking her job as city clerk in 2005.
Town and city clerks are a municipality’s record-keepers. They oversee elections, prepare and file documents and minutes for city meetings and handle requests for records and other city documents.
“The elections are the biggest and most stressful part of the job,” Grindle said. “I prefer vital records and dog licensing because that’s more of a time I can interact with the public.
“There’s usually not a lot of stress or confrontation. You can chat with them and find out about their life more so than elections or council meetings.”
Grindle was nominated for the honor by Deputy City Clerk Katina Howes. Several city officials, including City Manager David Cole, wrote letters of support.
“She is without question one of the most dedicated public servants I’ve ever worked with,” Cole said.
“It’s good to see people like that get recognized. You can just see the degree of dedication as well as follow-through. She just goes the extra mile.”