Year in Review – Top Columbia Heights stories, #3: CH city staff departures, arrivals
Three longtime employees decided to retire
There were a few notable comings and goings among Columbia Heights city staff in 2012.
After more than 30 years, Becky Loader retired in July as the library director for the Columbia Heights Public Library.
She was hired in August 1973 as a reference librarian, a position she held for three years. She was later promoted to assistant director and in 1978 she was promoted to director when her predecessor retired.
Loader recalled a memorable moment for her Feb. 2, 1987, when the library first went online. “That was a big day,” she said.
She also fondly remembered the library’s 75th anniversary in 2003. Each month, a patron was honored for their service to the library.
Loader said she would miss the people the most.
“This is the best staff I have ever had, and the patrons are great. … They’re appreciative of service. They like the personal contact of having someone who says ‘good morning,’ ‘how are you,’ and helps them find what they’re looking for,” she said.
Once retired, Loader said she hoped to spend more time with her husband. She is a Civil War re-enacter; enjoys quilting, writing, reading and gardening; and is active in a Dalmatian club.
Renee Dougherty has served as interim library director since Loader retired. It is expected the city will hire a full-time library director toward the end of March.
Karen Moeller, senior coordinator for Columbia Heights, retired on Sept. 14 after working for the city for 26 years.
In 1975, she began working part-time for the recreation department’s kids programs until she was hired as a staff development coordinator for Crest View Senior Communities. She worked there for six years.
“It was during that time I realized I loved the residents more than working with the staff, that I really loved the senior population,” Moeller said.
In 1986, remodeling at Murzyn Hall included a senior center in the lower level, and a full-fledged senior program began.
The center celebrated its 25th anniversary last year, which featured a bingo night that more than 200 people attended, an ice cream social for seniors and their families, and a catered dinner with entertainment that drew close to 200 people.
“At that point, I remember looking out and seeing all these people and thought, ‘That’s pretty cool,’” Moeller recalled. “I think at that point I kind of thought about retirement. We were still growing and it was still a vibrant group and I felt good about it.”
When asked about her retirement plans, Moeller said that since she’s graduated high school, her career has involved planning, organizing, teaching, leading and being responsible for others. At least for the first few months, she planned to unwind and not be in charge of anything.
“But my makeup is such I don’t know if I can let go of that for very long,” she said.
The new coordinator, Delynn Mulligan, began on Sept. 4. Prior to arriving in Columbia Heights, she was a park operation supervisor for Three Rivers Park District. She also worked with seniors as a recreation therapist in Golden Valley and was an activities director in Richfield.
City clerk/council secretary
Patty Muscovitz, Columbia Heights city clerk and city council secretary for 13 years, retired in late September.
She was hired in 1998 as a secretary for the Columbia Heights Development Department. In 1999, Jo-Anne Student retired as council secretary, and Muscovitz was hired to fill the position.
Of her time in Columbia Heights, Muscovitz said she most enjoyed the people. Of the council, she said, “I always tell people that the City Council, they’re just regular citizens that step up and try to do the best they can for the community, and I don’t think everybody realizes that.
“Everybody’s willing to work together and help each other,” Muscovitz said of the city staff. “We may be in an old building, but we’ve still got the best people to share work duties or help out when somebody needs help, and you don’t find that everywhere. But here it’s a real strong commitment to the good of the community.”
After her retirement, Muscovitz and her husband moved from Champlin to their cabin in Hackensack on Story Lake, which is three hours north of the Twin Cities.
She said she planned to find a part-time job there, create new hobbies and spend time with her brother, who lives eight cabins away on Story Lake.
Tori Leonhardt, who was hired to replace Muscovitz, began as a utilities clerk for Columbia Heights in September 2011. Her first meeting as city clerk was Sept. 24.