For nearly four decades, the city of Truesdale has had a consistent voice of support, and often guidance, to help keep the small town running smoothly and act as a bridge between residents and their …
For nearly four decades, the city of Truesdale has had a consistent voice of support, and often guidance, to help keep the small town running smoothly and act as a bridge between residents and their government. Now, after 39 years, City Clerk and Administrator MaryLou Rainwater has stepped down from her office and entered retirement.
Rainwater’s last day on the job was Oct. 6. She passes on her role to 10-year employee and city Treasurer Elsa Smith-Fernandez, who was appointed by the Truesdale Board of Aldermen Sept. 22.
Looking back on her time in office, Rainwater said her proudest accomplishments have been efforts to improve public safety and preserve Truesdale’s identity as an independent community.
Rainwater was recruited to office by the previous clerk in 1982. When she first began, the job was part time, just processing water bills at her home and attending a couple meetings a month.
“I was just going to do it for a short period of time,” Rainwater commented. “But I really liked it. I liked working with the public, helping people solve issues, finding out what’s wrong. ... I can’t believe I stayed 39 years.”
Since her start, the day-to-day operations of the city government have become a full-time job as the city has hired more staff, expanded its building code, grew in population and began taking on more projects. Most recently, Rainwater has helped manage the grant-funded construction of Bruer Park and the community building there.
One of Rainwater’s early goals, even before becoming city clerk, was to improve traffic safety for children walking in the city. Her niece, Ginny, was struck and killed by a car on Highway M 41 years ago.
The crosswalks and crossing guards that now serve the city are a result of the efforts of Rainwater and other community members to protect children. She was also a main driver of Truesdale’s drug take-back program, which since 2011 has collected unneeded prescription medicine to keep it from being abused. It’s the only drug take-back program in Warren County.
Rainwater’s other longterm effort was to get Truesdale’s zip code reinstated after the town’s post office closed in the late 1970s. It took almost 35 years and contacts with representatives at every level of government, but they made it happen in 2014.
“I believe every city should have their own zip code. ... We had problems with some of our sales tax being sent to our neighboring city due to the zip code,” Rainwater said. “The state says it’s not part of a city’s identity ... but we had great citizen support (to get it back).”
After so long in office, Rainwater said one of her most important lessons has been learning to listen and work with citizens to address their issues. She said the hardest part of her job has been having to cut off water or other services when an issue with a resident couldn’t be worked out.
Truesdale Mayor Chris Watson said Rainwater has been a guiding voice for all the elected representatives that have come and gone in her time.
“She has a passion to do the right thing for Truesdale and the residents,” Watson commented. “She gave hundreds of hours toward education to better herself for the city.”
The mayor said Rainwater is well-respected in the community because of her commitment to approaching every interaction or decision in a fair-minded way, regardless of her own feelings or opinions. That attitude, he said, is part of the most important lesson that she taught those around her: “It’s not about my wants or needs, it’s about the needs of the community,” Watson said.
“MaryLou has seen a lot of things change, from city hall, to residents, to businesses, and now to the park and the community center. I hope she knows that this is just the beginning for Truesdale,” Watson said.
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