Longtime city clerk Linda Steele retires in Calera

After 38 years as Calera City Clerk, Linda Steele will retire from the post effective Aug. 1.

The Calera City Council on Monday lauded Steele for her service and dedication, and presented her with a plaque of appreciation.

“I know for a fact she is the best right hand a mayor can have,” said Mayor George Roy. “Linda, I’ll dearly miss you and I know everyone else will.”

Council President Bobby Joe Phillips also offered a few words of reflection.

“It’s always been a privilege to sit down and discuss things with Linda,” Phillips said. “Her knowledge of things is better than what I could come up with.”

Steele accepted her plaque as her family looked on. She was asked to stand with the council for photos, and she agreed under one condition – “As long as I don’t have to take minutes,” she said.

“It’s been a wonderful job,” said Steele, who began work at City Hall straight out of high school. “I enjoyed it, I never got bored and I learned something everyday, but I’ve always said you’re only as good as the employees who back you.”

Assistant City Clerk Connie Payton has been appointed as Steele’s successor. The council unanimously approved a resolution allowing Payton to fill the assistant city clerk position.

A reception for Steele was held at the Calera Community Center following the council meeting.

In other business:

– City attorneys will have a conference call with U.S. Department of Justice officials Tuesday regarding the approval of last year’s election results.

The Justice Department rejected the city’s 2008 redistricting plan, claiming the plan eliminates the city’s only black voting district. Mayor-elect Jon Graham and newly elected city council members have not been sworn in as a result. Roy and the incumbent city council remain in office.

Roy said attorneys have gathered the city’s qualified voting list from the Alabama Secretary of State’s Office and the latest U.S. Census Bureau statistics to submit to the Justice Department.

Roy said 10,742 people live in Calera, according to the data. Of that number, 21 percent of the population is black or Hispanic.

If the Justice Department approves the city’s data, the city could hold an at-large election for a six-seat council in October, Roy said. The council now has five seats.

– The city secured an $8.7 million, 30-year bond issue through the AM Fund. Roy said the issue will fund roadwork around a new Publix Super Market to be located on Highway 70 at U.S. 31. The store is slated to open in 2010.

“This couldn’t have happened at a better time,” Roy said. “It’s coming together finally now.”