In early June, Karen Scherer will be retiring from her roles at Kennett Square Borough Hall. After nearly seventeen years of service, most residents have met her at one time or another. She is the woman with a bright smile, friendly demeanor and a strong desire to be helpful.
In fact, when I sat down to interview Karen about her current job, she quickly said that what she will miss most about leaving her job is the residents who contact her looking for answers, guidance, or support around some borough business and “just being able to be helpful.”
Karen Scherer is a local girl who grew up on a farm at New Bolton Center where her father was the farm manager for over fifty years. As a youth, she fondly talks about coming into Kennett Square and going to Newberry’s on a Saturday after chores and hearing the fire whistle blow at noon. With varied experiences in managing accounts, Karen decided to return to her home town by responding to an ad for Utilities Clerk for the Borough.
She was hired in 2002 and served as receptionist at Borough Hall, which at that time was located at 120 N. Broad Street. Beyond the front desk, she had the responsibility of collecting money for water and sewage bills and parking permits, including the municipal garage.
This is where Karen found that creating an inviting and helpful culture brought residents who had delinquent accounts back into the fold. She was able to work out payment plans that recovered many funds that had not been collected in the past.
Karen has moved through several classifications of jobs at Borough Hall. She has served as Assistant to the Borough Manager for many of her years; became Borough Secretary in 2006, which involves serving Council and being vigilant about following protocols for ordinances. Karen also provides clerical support to the Civil Service Commission, which is responsible for hiring full-time police officers.
In 2013, she became the Open Records Officer, which provides the public access to governmental records allowable under the PA Open Records Law. All of these responsibilities mean keeping current and up-to-date and Karen speaks about the importance of ongoing training, which she happily engaged.
One of Karen’s notable accomplishments was development of the Borough’s Annual Spring Clean-up which originally included neighborhood captains who volunteered to monitor the nine dumpsters around town. Previously, when the dumpsters were full, they were not emptied or removed that day, which created quite a mess.
When I asked Karen about some of the people she worked with who were especially close to her heart, she quickly mentioned Cleve Price, former Director of Public Works; Kathy Holliday, Finance Director – now retired; the late Chief of Police Eddie Zunino, Mayor Leon Spencer, and Mabel Latta Thompson, community organizer. She said, “We ‘clicked’ and this made my job one of building friendships.”
Mabel Thompson was a special inspiration to Karen, as Mabel personally knew Martin Luther King. When Mabel referred to him as “ML,” and shared their personal stories, Karen knew they were close friends.
Karen joined the MLK CommUNITY Board years ago and will continue after her retirement. Karen reflects: “Dr. King’s birthday is more than a Monday in January off from work. People don’t understand how brilliant this man was with his vision and great foresight. His is a message we need in our town, as we have diversity and MLK is not about any one people, he is about equal rights for all.”
When asked about how we are taking care of the kids in town, she said she is always looking for the kids who are falling through the cracks. On reflection, she agreed that the school system is doing its job and the many after-school programs for youth, as highlighted in “The Story of Kennett: Shaping Our Future One Child at a Time” are a great improvement.
Karen looks forward to having more time with her husband and family of 4 children, their spouses, and 7 grandchildren. She plans to work part-time job or as a contract employee to keep her hands in work.
She is of Native American descent of the Tiger Family, Seminole, Florida and participates in Native American activities, such as festivals and powwows, in our area for over 25 years. Karen also serves as the administrator for Faggs Manor Cemetery that dates back to 1749; both activities she will now give more time. Karen has plenty to keep her busy, yet anyone that knows Karen Scherer will say, “she will do it with a smile, deep caring and a sense of duty and responsibility.”
Thank you, Karen for helping Kennett Square be a better place to grow up and grow old!