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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

Town holds retirement party for outgoing CAO

by Sylene Argent

  Last Thursday afternoon, staff, Council, and committee reps for the Town of Essex gathered inside the Shaheen Community Room at the Essex Centre Sports Complex to wish outgoing CAO, Donna Hunter, well before she embarked on her retirement and thank her for 17-years of service to the Town of Essex.

  Mayor Larry Snively was the Mayor of the Town 17-years ago when Hunter was first hired to fill the role of Treasurer.

  “She’s really been an anchor,” he said. “Her personality alone shone through the staff. The staff loves you. We are all going to miss you.”

  Deputy Mayor Richard Meloche noted that over the years, Hunter had undergone many ups and downs with the Town. “You have been a class act to get us through those times,” he said. “We super appreciate what you have done [for the Town] and appreciate you.”

  Former Essex Mayor Ron McDermott took to the podium to thank Hunter for her dedication. “We had some good times and some bad times. We’ve [even] cried together’” he said.

  McDermott recalled that, after Hunter was hired, it took two years for her to get the Town’s finances straightened out.

  “Donna, you really were a leader,” McDermott said.

  Jeff Morrison, who took over Hunter’s previous role of Director of Corporate Services/Treasurer when she moved up the ladder to become CAO, thanked his boss for not only for the guidance she provided him, but for being a good person.

  “Donna believes in all of us and it shows,” he said.

  Chris Nepszy, the current Deputy CAO/Director of Infrastructure and Development, was recently appointed to take over Hunter’s position at the helm.

  Nepszy said, beyond her financial skills, Hunter was never afraid to roll up her sleeves to get work done. “Her work ethic was both insane and inspiring at the same time,” he said. “I hope to continue on the path that you’ve set.”

  “It doesn’t feel like it has been 17-years,” Hunter said, noting a lot has changed over the years as her career advanced in the Town of Essex. Technological advancements were most notable. She shared that on her first day on the job, she was shown her office. There was a tiny monitor on her desk, one of the older models that was quite heavy. She looked at the screen size and wondered how she was going to be able to make spreadsheets on something so small. Now, notebooks, tablets, and other devices are there to guide Council members and staff.

  She noted the staff members at the Town of Essex are motivated, talented, and great to work with. “I appreciated the warm welcome when I moved here,” she said.

  Hunter is looking forward to moving onto retirement, and with that, being able to spend more time with family.

  When Hunter came to Essex, she didn’t have any thoughts on how long she would end up staying. “Our home is here. I still live and care about the Town,” she said. “In this particular case, I worked were I lived. I’m leaving, but I am not leaving. I believe in the Town. It is a great place to live. There are great things for residents to take a part in. Everything that makes a town important to residents, it makes it important to me.”

  “I am very proud to hand over the torch to Chris,” she said. “We have an excellent administrative staff and Term of Council. There will not be any break in momentum as far as I can tell. Things will move forward.”  

During the open house, Hunter was presented a gift, as is customary with the Town. Nepszy said Hunter always had a painting in her office, since her first day on the job, which depicted a Spitfire. The Town provided Hunter with a replica of the painting.

  “It’s my most favourite painting in the world,” Hunter said as she excitedly unwrapped the gift.   

  Hunter’s last official day on the job will be March 15.

  Hunter has a bucket list of things to accomplish once she is officially retired, including spending more time on her favourite hobby, gardening, and taking the time to travel. She is planning a Disney World vacation with her husband and granddaughter and further plans to book a fishing trip.

  In the future, Hunter may consider volunteering with the Town on a board or committee.

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