GREENWOOD – After finishing school, Cheris Cadwell was looking for a job where she could use her skill with numbers, a position that would keep her busy and provide her with new opportunities.
Little did the Lincoln resident know, but she would find that job a few miles away in the village of Greenwood.
Cadwell began working as the village clerk on June 18.
“It’s kind of the perfect job for me, because I don’t ever get bored,” said Cadwell. “It’s always something new.”
Cadwell got to know many Greenwood residents while working as a waitress at a restaurant in nearby Waverly. That led her to apply for the position of village clerk after she completed an associates degree in business with a focus on accounting at Southeast Community College last December.
The job was originally offered to someone else, but that person left after three weeks. Then Village Board Chairman Matt Starr called to offer Cadwell the job. At first, she took the job on a temporary basis, but has since been made permanent village clerk.
Having never worked for a government entity before, it has taken Cadwell some time to adjust. She said learning how meetings are conducted and how to put together ordinances and resolutions for the Board of Trustees has been a challenge. She relies on the board and the village attorney for guidance, along with community members.
Board Member Megan Piehl, who filled in as village clerk temporarily when the position was vacant, helped train Cadwell. The new clerk has also used Don Wilken as a resource. He is a current member of the village board who also served on the board in the past.
Board Member Larry Meyer, who is the person with the most experience on the board, was ill when she first started, but Cadwell said since he has been back at board meetings, he has become a person she can turn to when questions about the past arise.
“All of (the board members) treat me really nice,” Cadwell said.
When it comes to the Greenwood’s history, Cadwell can also turn to Nancy Elliott, a longtime community member who attends every village board meeting. Cadwell said she feels paying attention to input from Elliot and the rest of the public is important in her job.
“If you listen to what someone has to say and value it, they’re more willing to work with you,” she said.
The chair next to Cadwell’s desk at the village office is frequently occupied by a Greenwood resident.
“People come in from the community and sit in that chair and talk to me about whatever,” she said.
Helping residents is another aspect of the job Cadwell has taken to quickly. As village clerk, she assists citizens with building permit applications, utility payments and even finding lost pets.
When a resident called to say a stray dog had been seen in their yard, Cadwell was quick to deal with the situation. She went to the home and recognized that the dog belonged to a neighbor.
“I let it back in the gate,” she said.
Cadwell enjoys such tasks.
“It’s just little things like that,” she said.
Cadwell also enjoys the accounting part of her job. With her degree and with her experience in hotel management, working with numbers comes easy, even when it is complicated.
“I really enjoy finding mistakes in numbers,” she said.
Her first weeks on the job were a bit challenging because the village was undergoing an audit. An official from the State Auditor of Public Accounts was there looking into the village’s accounts from October 2016 to September 2017.
“It was stressful just getting her the information she needed,” Cadwell said.
The audit found flaws in the village’s financial reporting from that time period, which was well before Cadwell started on the job. The village board has since taken several steps to correct the mistakes found in the audit.
The audit showed Cadwell that transparency is a key part of any government job.
“I’m all about keeping things transparent,” she said.
Cadwell said she was attracted to working in Greenwood because of the small town atmosphere. She grew up in northeast Lincoln, where neighbors know neighbors and greet each other at the local stores.
“Northeast Lincoln kind of reminds me of Greenwood,” she said.
She also recently started working as a waitress at the Uptown Saloon in Greenwood, which is also helping her familiarize herself with the community.
“I think it helps because now people know me from over there, too,” she said.
As a single mother of five kids ranging in age from 12 to 22, Cadwell is working hard so she can support her family and continue to serve the people of Greenwood for as long as possible.
“Whatever I do, I’d better just learn it and figure it out because there’s no room for error,” she said.
The job has been one of the most rewarding Cadwell has had in her career, which includes working in health care and the hospitality industry, as well as food service.
“It’s the most experience I’ve ever gained from one job,” she said.