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The village's ‘go-to’ person

Longtime Malverne village clerk to retire this month

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Working under several administrations and helping to piece together many budgets for 16 years is a stressful job, but Village Clerk Terry Emmel has managed to keep her cool and help the village board with numerous tasks throughout the years. But as much as she enjoys working with the mayor, village trustees and staff members at Village Hall, Emmel said, she is ready to spend more time with her grandchildren. She announced her plans to retire at the end of the month during the village’s Nov. 6 meeting.

“It’s time to enjoy my grandchildren, and I’m so blessed,” Emmel said, holding, one of those grandchildren, Christian. “It’s been 16 wonderful years. It’s a great family, and I’ve made so many friends along the way. You’re all going to be in my heart for a very, very long time.”

During her tenure at Village Hall, Emmel has served with three administrations, overseeing the budget, accounts payable, human resources and processes while serving as clerk, treasurer, registrar and records manager. She has also managed several village projects and supervised a staff of 15.

“Terry became known as a consummate professional,” Mayor Keith Corbett said, “taking pride in providing public service to our residents and to all the individuals she encountered.”

Corbett, an attorney with the firm Harris Beach, in Uniondale, said that he regularly works with village and town clerks in several municipalities. None of them, he said, has Emmel’s knowledge and wisdom. “On top of that, it’s just the good nature and good heart that you have to help all these residents,” Corbett told her at last week’s meeting. “It means a great deal to us.”

Corbett, who has served on the village board since 2014, said that Emmel, 68, had hoped to retire after the March election, in which Corbett was elected mayor. But she stayed to help Corbett familiarize himself with the job and to help with the budget.

“Patti always said that you were our right and left hand,” Corbett said, referring to former Mayor Patti Ann McDonald. “But I think you were our left and right arm, and our left and right foot. You were really someone who’s been immensely valuable to this village for many, many years.”

Emmel helped craft a 2019-20 budget without a tax increase that the village board unanimously approved. “It was a long-term goal,” Corbett said, “but we were only able to do because of what you provided, and obviously what Patti provided, for many, many years, so it really is truly appreciated.”

In addition to her responsibilities at Village Hall, Emmel has helped the village with numerous causes. As a member of the Steven McDonald Memorial Corporation, she helped it raise $75,000 for the Garden of Forgiveness at Westwood Park, which was unveiled in September. And starting last year, Emmel helped organize the collection of canned goods for the Bridge Church’s food drive to support workers who live on the backstretch at Belmont Park, in Elmont.

“One of the most remarkable things that I’ve ever seen is that you get pulled in so many different directions,” Deputy Mayor Perry Cuocci told Emmel at the meeting. “You have a mayor, four trustees, village residents, and yet you always have a smile on your face. You’re an excellent representation of not only the board, but what this village is all about.”

Trustee Tim Sullivan described the role of village clerk as being the Chief Executive Officer of the community. Behind every fiscally responsible village, he said, is a village clerk. Sullivan added that through Emmel’s efforts, he learned more about the ins and outs of what it means to serve the village.

“I sincerely appreciate everything that you’ve done for me personally,” Sullivan said, “and I think the village owes you a debt of gratitude for your years of service to our community.”

Trustee John O’Brien said that since he was appointed 13 years ago, Emmel has always been there to support him. “You’ve been my go-to person a lot,” O’Brien told her. “Never once did you lose your patience with me, so you have an unbelievable quality to not get mad and get burdened with all these people. I don’t know how you get any work done, but you do.”

Emmel said that while she looked forward to retirement, she would still be around to support the friends she made at Village Hall. “My fondest wish is that Malverne continues to grow and to prosper,” she said.