Julia M. Dendinger | News-Bulletin photo
At her final village of Bosque Farms meeting in June, retired clerk/administrator Gayle Jones, third from left, was recognized for 17 years of service with the village by the governing body, from left ,Councilors Ronita Wood, Bryan Burks, Mayor Russ Walkup and Councilors Michael Cheromiah and Tim Baughman.
BOSQUE FARMS — After 17 years of commuting from Mountainair to Bosque Farms, the village’s clerk/administrator has passed the torch.
“I never dreamed I would retire from this village,” Gayle Jones said. “Bless Lillie (McNabb’s) heart. She took me in as an orphan and I stayed two nights a week with her, or else I wouldn’t have made it 17 years.”
The commute was one thing that made Jones hesitate to apply for the position in Bosque Farms. That and “a God thing,” as she told the News-Bulletin in 2005 when she took the position.
Jones said she let the application for the job sit on her counter for more than a month before she got the feeling she just needed to fill it out and apply.
Fast forward to 2022, and Jones has closed out a part of her life that many clerks never experience.
“Any time a clerk takes a new position, it’s a craps shoot,” Jones said, noting that municipal clerks retain their positions at the will of the current mayor. “Historically, there really have not been that many (municipal) clerks retire as a clerk. It just didn’t happen.”
Clerks are often replaced when a new mayor is elected, and retired clerks are few and far between.
“Either a mayor came in and fired them, or they got tired of local politics,” she said. “I really didn’t give much thought to retiring from here when I took the job in Bosque Farms.”
When asked if she had tired of local politics in the village, Jones just laughed and said councilors over the years have been “manageable.”
In addition to several councils, Jones has worked under three mayors — Wayne Ake, Bob Knowlton and current mayor, Russ Walkup.
“They were really, really, really good mayors,” she said. “They were easy to work with and work for.”
With June 30 as her official last day, just a few short weeks later, Jones said she misses her employees the most.
“I miss them already and the people of the village,” she said
When Jones was hired by former Mayor Wayne Ake, the village’s EMS program had gone defunct.
“They had had one several years before and it died. We had nothing,” the former clerk said, who has been EMT since 1986 and an EMT instructor since 2000. “Wayne told me one of his goals as mayor was to get that back up and going, and we did.”
Jones was a volunteer EMT with the village during her time there.
Julia M. Dendinger | News-Bulletin photo
One of Jones’ last tasks before her retirement, she administered the oath of office to Melissa Velasquez, the new clerk/administrator for the village of Bosque Farms.
Being a part of resuscitating the EMS services, as well as being part of the administration that helped get the fire and police station completed are projects Jones feels pride in.
“The fire and police station was a huge project. I came in during the midst of that; they hadn’t started construction,” she said. “We got the final funding and got it done. That was huge.”
Now that she is retired, Jones wants to travel and check some things off her bucket list.
“Most of my destinations revolve around food. I’m ready to go to the coast and eat fresh seafood, which I haven’t done in years.
“I watched something on St. Louis yesterday so I want to try some the things that are their claim to fame — ribs,” she said with a laugh. “I just want to play tourist in New Orleans and have some etouffe, go to Memphis in May to see their big barbecue contest.”
During her final meeting in June, several people expressed gratitude for Jones’ many roles in their lives.
Village attorney Mark Jarmie thanked her for her personal friendship and guidance, while Councilor Bryan Burks thanked Jones for her years of services and “getting us where we are today.”
Ake said in 2005 the village was “literally drowning in problems, and she applied for a job. Luckily, I had brains enough to hire her.”
Ake initially doubted Jones would last long, making the daily drive to and from Mountainair.
“She is sort of stubborn that way,” Ake said with a laugh. “I want to thank you for what you have personally given this village, this council and previous councils and mayors.
“You were always there. You were a great administrator, a great friend. We went through a lot of joys and a lot of good times, a lot of sad times and hard times.”
Walkup said the current and previous staff members and administrators she has trained all recognize her efforts and offered their sincere gratitude for the work she has done, lives she’s touched and the difference she’s made during her time with the village.
“We appreciate every sacrifice and tireless effort you have made,” Walkup said. “Thank you for your years of service, the highly revered legacy and standards you’ve set.”
Her dedication to public service, specifically as a clerk, was recognized in 2018 when she was chosen Clerk of the Year by the New Mexico Clerks and Finance Officers Association.
From 2001 to 2005, she was clerk/treasurer for the village of Willard and was clerk/treasurer from 1993 to 2000 for the town of Mountainair.
Jones received her Master Municipal Clerk designation in 2005 and her Certified Municipal Clerk designation in 1996.
While working for the village, Jones served on the Valencia Regional Emergency Communications Center 911 Board. She also spent four years as a trustee for the town of Mountainair, and was the president of the New Mexico Municipal Clerks and Finance Officers Association in 2006-07, 2009-2010 and 2010-11.
Julia M. Dendinger began working at the VCNB in 2006. She covers Valencia County government, Belen Consolidated Schools and the village of Bosque Farms. She is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists Rio Grande chapter’s board of directors.