For the last 17 years, Mary Frank has been the conductor who’s kept the village of Saugerties government running on the tracks and, for the most part, on time.
The small village government is like a family. She’ll be missed when she retires at the end of the month.
“I often call Mary my mother, but she says she’s not old enough to be my mother, so she’s my big sister,” says Mayor William Murphy. “It’s impossible to put into words. She’s been my friend and co-worker. She deals with my moods better than anyone else.”
How exactly does she deal with the mayor’s “moods”?
She usually gives him a tap with her foot under the table during board meetings, if he forget to say something important or says something he shouldn’t have. It’s a trick she learned when she first came onboard as village clerk when Bob Yerick was mayor.
Before joining the village, she had worked for 20 years as a travel agent, then ran the office for a pair of local doctors.
“I’ve always liked working with the public,” Frank says.
Back in 1998, then-Village Clerk Jean Turner was retiring and trustee Marion Vail came to Frank and asked her if she would be interested in the job.
She was interviewed by Yerick and the trustees and before long she was clerk of the village.
“But I had no idea what I was getting into,” said Frank. “No one understands it until you have to do it.”
As clerk, Frank oversees the day-to-day running of the village office. She deals with the public, in all its many incarnations — whether they be friendly, sad, upset, or downright angry and argumentative. With a part-time mayor and limited staff, the clerk is the face of the village.
On the other side of the coin she has to deal with a group of elected officials. At times it can be like herding cats. She has to get them the information they need, contact the people the trustees need contacted, deal with state departments, lawyers and the press.
She’s also the clerk of the village Planning Board and Zoning Board of Appeals.
When asked what the best part of the job has been she says, “helping the residents of Saugerties.”
When asked about the worst, she diplomatically says, “there really has been no worst part.”
And what has it been like working for two mayors?
Frank says they were like night and day.
Yerick micromanaged the office, always around, always wanting to know what was going on. He was retired and had plenty of time.
Murphy has a day job and doesn’t hover around the office overseeing every little thing, Frank says.
Frank has one son, Nick, 28, who is the sous chef at the upscale Hen of the Wood restaurant in Burlington, VT. Her husband, Richard, passed in 1993.
And when asked why she’s retiring, Mary, 63, says, “it’s time.”
“I have enough projects around the house to keep me busy. I’ll be able to read more and I want to travel to see family.”
Lisa Mayone, who has been serving as clerk of the village water department for the last three years, will replace her.
“The one thing I won’t be is a helicopter clerk and come in everyday and hover over Lisa,” Frank said.
“We’re getting a great replacement in Lisa,” Murphy says of Mayone.
Mayone’s husband, Bob, just retired from Verizon. They have two kids, Chloe, 23, and Tanner, 20.
Before coming to work for the village, Mayone, like Frank, had a long history of working with the public. She used to work at the IBM Credit Union, which is now the Mid-Hudson Credit Union.
When the opportunity arose to take over as the village clerk, Mayone said she jumped at the chance because it will give her the opportunity to continue to work with the public.
“I’m looking forward to this and I hope doing as good a job as Mary.”