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Southern Utah News Front Page: June 14, 2018
Kanab City loses a Treasure(r)
Kanab City Treasurer Raelene Johnson is retiring after 39 years working for the city.
By Dixie Brunner
Numerous mayors have come and gone, a few city managers as well, but for the past 39 years there has been one friendly face consistently greeting you when you walk into the Kanab City Offices – Treasurer Raelene Johnson.
While there’ll still be friendly faces at the city offices, Johnson’s won’t be among them. Apparently after all those years working for Kanab City, she thinks it’s time to retire!
“I started working for the city on June 1, 1979,” said Johnson. “Claude Glazier was the mayor at the time. When I started, I was still waiting tables at Chef’s Palace at night.”
Johnson said she and then-City Manager Keith McAllister had a one room office in the basement of the old library. Since that time, the Kanab City Offices moved to the county building, and then more recently to its present location at 26 North 100 East.
But while the city office’s physical location has changed a couple of times, Johnson has been the steadfast employee. During that time, she and husband Scott also raised three children.
“Raelene should be commended for 39 years in municipal government,” said Kanab City Manager Joe Decker. “When any of the city administration has any questions about something that has happened in the past, we always turn to Rae-lene, and somehow she always seems to know the answer.”
“There have been eight mayors I’ve worked under,” recalls Johnson. (Following Glazier who hired her), were Mayors Bernie Ripper, Viv Adams, Karen Alvey, Kim Lawson, Nina Laycook and current Mayor Robert Houston (several served two terms).
“Obviously they were all different, with different interests and focuses for the city, but I really enjoyed working with each one of them.”
“Raelene was always so steady, she didn’t get rattled and took everything in stride,” said former Kanab City Mayor Karen Alvey. “She is an awesome lady.”
As for the actual job of being city treasurer, things have changed dramatically! Originally everything was posted by hand, and then came the 80’s and learning how to use computers and operating the associated programs!
“Keith and I went up north for one week of training,” said Johnson. “We didn’t even have a clue what a cursor was! We attended the training both wearing cowboy boots. The instructors all laughed and said they had bet that’s what we’d be wearing!”
“First and foremost, I greatly value Raelene’s friendship,” said former Mayor Kim Lawson. “She was capable, dependable, and demonstrated consistent concern for the community which she has served for these many years. I wish her all the best in her retirement.”
There have been numerous public ‘characters’ and many comedic moments Johnson has dealt with through the years.
“I remember one time a man brought a sewer pipe to a city council meeting,” said Johnson. “I guess he was trying to make a point about what he felt about city services!”
“Dealing with the public isn’t always easy. But Raelene made it seem effortless, whether it was over the counter or behind the scenes as she handled Kanab City business,” said former Mayor Nina Laycook. “Through the decades and seemingly without effort, she managed to get to the matter at hand and get the job done. Enjoy your retirement Raelene, and know that you’ll be missed and very much appreciated!”
And being the treasurer and operating the city budget was often a challenge in this small rural community. “The city didn’t have a lot of money to do things, and sometimes residents didn’t always understand that,” said Johnson.
She remembers one very animated Kanab City Council meeting after they annexed the Kanab Creek Ranchos and paved the roads through a Special Improvement District. “I remember the police had to escort a couple of gentlemen out of the meeting and a fist fight proceeded in the hallway,” quipped Johnson.
Johnson said there have been numerous things through the years of her employment that have brought her much pride in having been a part. “I thought the downtown beautification project was quite nice. And Jacob Hamblin Park, the swimming pool, skate park, and basketball and tennis courts – they are all great for the community!”
“Raelene is an icon in the Kanab City Office. Anytime there is a question about something that happened 20+ years ago, the answer is... go find Raelene,” said current Kanab City Mayor Robert Houston. “Raelene has always treated people with respect and done her best to help people. Because Raelene has also managed the cemetery and all of the plots, she is a book of genealogy of Kanab families.”
Katherine Ohlwiler will be the new Kanab City Treasurer. “I’ve got big shoes to fill,” she commented about Johnson. “She’s done a great job.”
But now it’s time for Johnson to kick back a little. While she claims no real retirement plans, she loves horseback riding and is hoping that she might get to do some traveling as well.
“I’ve enjoyed my job the whole time,” said Johnson. “I want to thank the people of Kanab – I loved meeting and helping them. I’m going to miss seeing them.”