Park Forest, IL-(ENEWSPF)- The friendly face outside the Village Manager’s office retired at the end of last month after three decades on the job. Sandi Black served her last day in Park Forest after coming to and leaving Village Hall nearly 15,000 times, according to reckoning by Tom Mick. Mr. Mick said Ms. Black came to work about 7,200 times during her tenure.
Sandi Black’s colleagues, friends, and family gathered in the boardroom for a luncheon in her honor. Some who had retired or gone elsewhere, board members past and present, and one former Village President, Pat Kelly, spent some time congratulating Ms. Black on her retirement. Everyone pitched in for the luncheon to celebrate the woman who saw so much and served with such a pleasant disposition.
Ms. Black served as Executive Assistant to the Village Manager and Deputy Clerk for the entire Village. Her title changed through the years as she was given additional duties. She built the position as much as fulfilled it. Her title meant that she answered directly to the Village Manager, and she served four of them through the decades. She worked with four different mayors: Jerry Mathews, Ron Bean, Pat Kelly, and John Ostenburg. She also had the opportunity to work with about 35 different village trustees through the years.
How did she deal with all the egos? Consider that question posed by the bearer of one of those egos who had the pleasure of working with Ms. Black. She was always serene.
Village Manager Tom Mick spoke of Sandi Black’s professionalism, “In our lines of work, we come across some people that have a problem that day, something happened, they’re not happy, and they’re going to come to Village Hall and let people know about it. They want to talk to the mayor, the village manager, a trustee, or whoever the person is who’s causing them harm, whatever the issue — she always extended professionalism and courtesy to people even when she wasn’t getting that response in return. That’s not easy.”
Mr. Mick said he couldn’t remember one time when Ms. Black acted less than professionally.
The village manager believes in punctuality. He said Ms. Black arrived at work every day by 8:45 a.m., regardless of the weather. “I really appreciate that. That sets a tone for the rest of the organization,” as she answered directly to him.
Ms. Black introduced her family present at the event.
“I’m looking forward to retirement,” she said. “Thirty years, it flies by. I’ve made a lot of friends. I’ve been happy. I’ve loved this job. We are family. Things happen in a family,” she went on, a little choked up at this point. “People get sick. People die. They have celebrations, they have weddings, they have everything. And we’re always ‘in it’ with everybody. It makes us even better. Sometimes I think even the tragedies make us better. We just get closer and closer together.”
“I hope that continues for everyone,” she continued. “Park Forest is a great place to work. The board, the department heads, the manager, they all care for us very deeply. We’re paid fairly. I’m just so blessed that I got this job and that I stayed here. I had no reason to leave and I never wanted to leave.”
She wished everyone “happiness, health, love, and “light in your lives.”
After the formalities of the event, Ms. Black told eNews Park Forest that she felt relaxed. “I feel like I really turned my job over to somebody who’s a wonderful gal and so competent. I’ll miss all of my co-workers. Even more than that, the people coming into Village Hall — I always loved hearing older-than-me people, they’d come in, and we’d just get in a conversation. ‘When did you move here? Where did you come from?’ I just loved that. And I think they deserved the time. So, I’ll miss that.”
Angela Thurston is the “wonderful gal” Ms. Black referenced, taking the reigns as the new Executive Assistant to the Village Manager and Deputy Village Clerk.
So what was Sandi Black’s secret? How did she deal with some of the incredible egos that made their way through Village Hall?
Ms. Black said she essentially treated people as she would have wanted to be treated, “I think if I was even-keeled with everybody, then that’s kind of what I got back. It was always just a mutual respect for each other.”