Retired clerk looks to next challenge |

Retired clerk looks to next challenge

After retiring as Grass Valley City Clerk, Bobbi Poznik-Coover would seem to have no need of further challenges.

On a recent sunny morning, the 25-year city employee sat outside her Alta Sierra home, up a winding road and over a ridge. On the wrap-around deck, several inviting seating areas and two barbecues awaited the next round of entertaining of family and dear friends.

Poznik-Coover, 63, had recently planted roses in the garden below, and looked forward to tending the tomatoes, squash, corn and other vegetables, and the plum, apricot, apple, peach and fig trees. Birds chirped in the pines and oaks. The occasional deer have been known to poke their heads into the garage.

Inside the comfortably appointed home, a fancy new sewing machine was set out on a table. Cookies baked in the oven. At an hour when she formerly had been plowing full-bore into city affairs, the chef lounged in a tank top from the Caribbean resort of Xel-Ha and looked ahead to a summer anniversary cruise to Alaska.

Ah, retirement!

“I’m a little surprised at how much I’m enjoying it,” Poznik-Coover said.

But merely enjoying the good life doesn’t seem to be quite enough for the self-admitted high-achiever.

“I just hope to have a long, happy life in retirement and find a niche for myself in the community where I can contribute and have rewarding experiences,” she said.

Seeking out the next challenge has been a way of life for too long.

When in her 40s, Poznik-Coover and her then-husband uprooted their family of teenagers from the Bay Area and brought them to western Nevada County, just because they had fallen in love with the place.

“We bought a house and then I looked for a job,” she recalled. With 13 years of office and accounting experience, Poznik-Coover soon landed a job in the finance department of the city, in late 1980.

A few years later, her marriage broke up. The newly single woman filled her time with evening classes at Sierra College – which, then, were held at Nevada Union High School.

“I became interested in what I was learning,” Poznik-Coover recalled. “I’ve only missed one semester since then.”

She earned a certificate in management, then an associate degree. She found an online program through California State University, Chico, and earned a bachelor’s degree in social science. At the time, she was 60 years old – the class elder.

Meanwhile, back at the city, the accounting clerk helped birth fundamental changes in the way the city does business.

When she started, the city clerk typed up city documents on a typewriter and pasted them into large record books. The tomes still sit in a storage vault in her former office.

“When people made their water and sewer payments, we still wrote it out in books,” Poznik-Coover said. “You can imagine how time-consuming it was. Of course, the city was in a little building on the corner. We had a handful of people working.”

In 1989, the job of deputy city clerk opened up and Poznik-Coover landed it.

She liked the work and the people, and looked for ways to advance. Through the League of California Cities, Poznik-Coover started a 3-year program to become a certified municipal clerk.

At the time, the same person was both city administrator and city clerk. When the city hired Gene Haroldsen as administrator in 1992, Poznik-Coover said, Haroldsen said he wanted to split up the positions. She became city clerk in 1993.

The job grew as Grass Valley grew.

In her years with the city, Poznik-Coover helped implement the first computer systems and a system for charging for business licenses. An exciting period came in 1994 when she had to run a recall election in which four council members were thrown out of office. The city building went through an expansion and a remodeling.

She helped the city develop a flag and a Web site.

“I liked the idea of being more involved with local government and the decision-makers,” Poznik-Coover said. “But it’s real stressful sometimes.”

She continued to take classes and became a master municipal clerk in 2003. Like earning a college degree and her first certificate, “it’s just something I wanted to do,” Poznik-Coover said.

Now remarried, she has been active in Big Brothers/Big Sisters and in the Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital Auxiliary. Looking toward retirement, Poznik-Coover accepted a position on the auxiliary’s board three months ago.

“I knew when I retired, it was going to be a time of finding a place for myself,” she said. “I want to make a contribution.”

But she has no plans to rush into the next challenge.

“My husband said, ‘Be careful what you say yes to,’ and he’s right,” Poznik-Coover said. “I’m going to take my time and see what feels right.”

To contact staff writer Trina Kleist, e-mail trinak@theunion .com or call 477-4231.

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