Vana Camp loves her work. And that is making it hard to retire as clerk-treasurer of the Town of Deaver after 23 years, which she will do on Dec. 31.
That dedication is one reason Camp was named last month as the clerk-treasure of the year by the Wyoming Association of Municipal Clerks and Treasurers.
Camp was honored at Tuesday night’s town council meeting by WAMCAT Vice President Julie Silbernagel, the clerk-treasurer in Buffalo.
“It’s really hard to give this up, because I love it,” said Camp during an interview at the Deaver Town Hall Tuesday afternoon. “I just love all parts of it. We’re getting new water meters and it’s ‘Yay!’ I just love it.”
Camp is really a big city girl, born and raised in New Mexico and going to junior high in Albuquerque and then high school in Santa Fe. She met her future husband, Bill, in junior high when, as Vana Bell, she sat in front of him in school in an alphabetized classroom. Even when she moved to Santa Fe, they dated, and after they married, she supported Bill while he attended the University of New Mexico, working for the Piggly Wiggly grocery store chain.
Camp joked that she and Bill later moved to Wyoming because they wanted to raise their kids in a small town, but really, she said, it was the hunting and fishing that lured Bill, who taught in Basin and Greybull, then moved to Deaver in 1986 to teach math at Rocky Mountain Middle School after three years in Montana.
Vana took a part-time job at SE Inc. for a while, and later, her former boss, Craig Sorenson, who was also mayor of Deaver, asked her if she would like to be the town clerk-treasurer.
She agreed and was hired July 1, 1991, to replace the retiring Florence Mungall, at first taking her work home, then working out of the old town hall and town shop building, which was later torn down. When the Deaver town hall and community hall was built in 1996, she moved into her new office, where she has worked ever since.
Camp worked only about eight or 10 hours a week at first, she said, but her role gradually expanded until she became a fulltime clerk-treasure under Mayor Rod Wambeke. She was the clerk for Sorenson for 11 years, Wambeke for eight and Fred Yates for four – 23 years on the job in Deaver.
“I’m fortunate to have one of the best, well now THE best clerk in the state,” Yates said. “She’s been great. I’d have been totally lost without her, even though I’d been on the council for eight years. She just handles it for the most part. She phones and we discuss things. We have good communication.”
Sorenson shared similar sentiments.
“She was really consistent with everything,” he said. “You can’t have someone in there who does her own thing. She treated everyone the same. She has a great work ethic. She’s been a good clerk for the Town of Deaver all these years.
“She’s very honest. No one ever has to question her integrity. She always did look out for the best interests of the town.”
Camp has been involved with WAMCAT for many years, serving on various committees and later the board of directors.
Camp’s award was announced during the fall WAMCAT meetings Sept. 8-12 in Casper. Yates said the town “kept it a big secret” that she was nominated, so much so that she wasn’t going to go to the fall gathering. But he insisted, so she went.
Camp was nominated by Yates, Greybull clerk-treasurer Kathy Smith and Thermopolis clerk-treasurer Tracey Van Heule, all of whom wrote glowing letters of recommendation that told of her dedication, work ethic, work with other clerks and her commitment to and effectiveness inWAMCAT.
“We have really enjoyed Vana in our group,” Silbernagel said following Tuesday’s presentation in Deaver. “I was so impressed that, with her being from Deaver, population 175, she could step up and make the new clerks feel welcome and encourage the rest of us to take her lead.
“She pursued continuing education and is a certified municipal clerk. She sets a very good example. WAMCAT would like to thank the Town of Deaver for supporting Vana and our organization.”
Camp said the hardest part about retiring will be missing the people she sees daily as clerk-treasurer.
“We just really have a nice community,” she said. “When we build the back room here (the community hall), people didn’t realize how much it would be used. And if you need to feed a group of 100, you just make a couple phone calls and people bring food. Deaver is a very generous, kind community.
“That’s what makes it fun. People want to give back.”
As for the job, Camp said she enjoys the fact that her work is different every day.
“I like that part of it,” she said.
Deaver is currently working with three grants: A Wyoming Water Development Commission grant for an analysis of the town water system, a State Loan and Investment Board grant for new water meters and pits and a mosquito grant through the Dept. of Agriculture.
“The State of Wyoming helps a lot,” she said. “They are always willing to help. And the other town clerks like Valerie (Beal in Lovell) and Kathy in Greybull are helpful. If they have an example, they’ll send it to you.
“We have a 100 percent record of receiving all of the grants we’ve applied for over the years. Of course, we don’t apply for many.”
Camp said she’s worked with some great mayors in Sorenson, Wambeke and Yates.
“Different mayors take on different projects in town,” she said. “Luckily, all of our mayors have come from the council and I appreciate that. They know what’s been going on.”
Yates said it will be hard for the town to replace Camp, but Camp joked that whoever is hired will “have a young brain, and that will be helpful.”
Asked about the challenges of the job, Camp said, “The hardest thing is collections. The difficulty is in following through. You have to do it uniformly. That’s the hardest…Through the years it’s become more uniform, and more policies have been put in place.”
After she retires she hopes to volunteer with the recreation district and on projects in the community. She will also visit her grandchildren in Grand Junction, Colo., the three children of daughter Cassie Piper. Closer to home, daughter Carissa Camp is a language arts teacher at Lovell High School transitioning to head librarian.
By David Peck