Retiring finance director has served underneath eight mayors – American Press

Over the previous 41 years, Karen Harrell stated she has labored to guard the long-term monetary well being for the town of Lake Charles.

Harrell is retiring as the town’s finance director Dec. 31 after serving in that place since 2007. The Metropolis Council on Dec. 15 adopted a decision to nominate Emily McDaniel as the town’s new finance director upon Harrell’s retirement.

Since being employed in 1980 to work for the town’s finance division, Harrell has labored underneath eight mayors. She turned the town’s accounting supervisor in 1985 and served in that capability till changing into finance director.

Harrell stated a finance director should meet the town’s current wants, similar to capital enchancment, and sustaining infrastructure like streets, water and sewer. On the identical time, sufficient funding should be put aside to accommodate progress, broaden providers and endure any surprising points, together with hurricanes.

Harrell grew up in Hackberry and had 24 college students in her graduating class. Residing in a small city provided her alternatives to be taught managerial expertise she would use later in life, she stated.

“For something to achieve success, everybody needed to take part,” she stated.

Harrell attended McNeese State College and labored on the college’s monetary workplace. After graduating, she went to work for the town’s finance division and by no means seemed again. Throughout her profession, she was solely one among three metropolis finance administrators. Arthur Lee served within the place till his retirement in 1986, and he was adopted by Ron Kemerly, who retired in 2007.

“I feel that claims lots about how the brand new administrations have acknowledged the worth of the place and the steadiness it brings to the town,” she stated. “It’s vital to have somebody who has been right here and is aware of what’s happening.”

Harrell acknowledged how the calls for of her job impacted her household. Her two daughters, Falon and Emily, and her son, James, primarily grew up in Metropolis Corridor, she stated.

“I’d choose them up after college, and they’d do their homework there,” Harrell stated. “We spent many weekends there. The ladies would act as secretaries, and my son would play basketball within the lengthy hallway of Metropolis Corridor.”

Harrell stated her kids had been so concerned in metropolis authorities that they knew all of the vital deadlines, together with the tip of the fiscal yr, in addition to due dates for the monetary and price range stories. As a result of the books needed to be closed by Oct. 31, she stated she was by no means in a position to take her kids trick-or-treating.

Throughout her profession, Harrell stated she witnessed how the town endured varied ups and downs. She was there for the recession that occurred within the mid-Eighties. She noticed how the $90 million bond situation authorised by voters in 2006 helped fund a number of capital enchancment initiatives, together with highway extensions, that sparked new improvement.

Harrell talked about the thousands and thousands of {dollars} spent on increasing water and sewer providers to different areas of the town. She stated one of many proudest accomplishments is the $18 million spent on revitalizing Lake Charles’ downtown district.

Harrell stated former Mayor Randy Roach was “very phenomenal in his management” from 2000 to 2017. She stated present Mayor Nic Hunter has confronted challenges like no different chief within the metropolis. “He has nice concepts and is so passionate in regards to the metropolis and the place he desires to guide us,” Harrell stated. “I feel we’ve an unknown way forward for what the economic system can be after the rebuilding is over. We hope our companies and residents come again. It’s a extremely attention-grabbing time for the administration because it strikes ahead to construct again higher and stronger and present our resilience, as we all the time have by means of the years.”

Wanting forward, Harrell stated she is worked up to spend extra time together with her kids and two grandchildren and transfer into a brand new section of life. She stated her time working for the town has been fulfilling.

“What we do at metropolis authorities is make a distinction within the high quality of life for Lake Charles residents and guests,” she stated. “We on the finance division are an vital a part of metropolis authorities.”

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