Retiring Beal expresses pride in her community

By David Peck

Pride in a job well done and in the community she has served. That would seem to sum up the feelings of longtime Town of Lovell clerk/treasurer Valerie Beal, who retired last week after more than 19 years of service to the town.

Beal worked her last day on Friday, with newly hired Colleen Tippetts working with Beal in recent weeks and taking the reins this week.

The daughter of Thales and Marilyn Haskell, Beal is a 1975 graduate of Lovell High School and attended Ricks College for two years before marrying Tracy Beal in 1977.

The newlyweds lived in Portland for a spell, then back and forth between Lovell and Provo, Utah, where Tracy attended BYU, earning a degree in accounting. When home, Valerie worked for the family business, Haskell Furniture, and after his degree Tracy began a career in banking, working for Big Horn Federal for many years. Valerie worked for the furniture company for more than 20 years.

Beal got her first taste of town business when she was elected to the Lovell Town Council in 1996, serving one term. She was then appointed town treasurer by mayor Glen Olsen in 2002 upon the retirement of Marilyn Croy and started work in December of that year, working with Croy for several weeks to learn the position.

Beal added town clerk to her job title when then clerk Don Negro took a leave of absence and eventually retired, at which time she officially was appointed clerk/treasurer.

She said she learned a lot from Croy but also from longtime employee Ed Allred, the assistant treasurer, who she said was “a great trainer” and taught her the ins and outs of the Casselle management software, a program specific to municipalities.

“Ed was fabulous help, to help me learn and to help me become more familiar with what we needed to do,” she said.

Allred is still working in the office part time, and Stephanie Rodriguez is the assistant treasurer.

Beal said she has had to stay on top of things as technology and practices changed over the years, noting it was a matter of “just keeping up with ongoing reporting and laws and the things that continue to change with the State of Wyoming, the things you needed to know about and keep track of.”

Asked what has been the most gratifying thing for her during her years with the town, Beal said the multi-year water and sewer infrastructure project was especially rewarding.

“It was wonderful to see that those improvements were made, looking forward into the future,” she said, adding, “It was a great value to the town at that point in time” and put the town “ahead of the curve” for getting funding in place and obtaining grants for the project.

“It was fun to be part of that,” she said. “It was definitely a benefit for the town.”

Lovell has always been a progressive town government, she said, while at the same time being fiscally responsible.

“I’ve always been very impressed with our mayors and councils that we’ve had and that I’ve served with in their willingness to serve the town and their willingness to be open minded about the challenges the town faces,” she said. “When things come up, they’re willing to discuss them and look for the betterment of what needs to be done for the town. They seem to work well together for the betterment of the community.

“And it’s not just one group or another. I’ve been excited because it’s been fun to serve with as many people as I have and yet still see the personalities and everybody working together to make things work. Each one brings strengths to the office. That has been a huge benefit to the community. There are just such good people who have been willing to serve.”

As for her co-workers in the office, she said it’s been more like a family than an office staff, noting, “You really do grow together. You’re trying to do what’s best for the community and have that as a common goal.”

Beal said she learned from her parents the value of community service and recalled them working on a park project and her mother working on the beautification of the community and being instrumental in the creation of the chamber of commerce office building that was formerly a service station.

“They loved the community, loved Lovell and knew that they wanted to be a part of it,” she said. “My mom was very talented in drawing things out. She’d come up with an idea, and then she would draw it so people could see what she was envisioning, I guess. I think that helped people understand what she was looking to do.”

Beal herself has been active with church callings, supporting Lovell Bulldog sports and serving for nearly 12 years on the Lovell Inc. board of directors as the representative for the Town of Lovell.

Valerie and Tracy Beal were fixtures at Lovell sporting events for many years.

“We grew up loving the Lovell Bulldogs and were thrilled when we had our kids grow up in Lovell and be able to come to the Lovell schools, and we loved the sports,” she said. “There were many, many years where we hit just about every basketball game you could hit, plus the ones at tournaments.”

Son Jason now works in Fairbanks, Alaska, as a director of emergency services for a borough, and daughter Janis is the head basketball coach for the College of Idaho women’s basketball team in Caldwell, Idaho.

“That’s one of the things we’re excited about and looking forward to doing is being able to spend a little more time in that direction during basketball time in fall and winter and hopefully being able to go up and see a little bit of Jason’s area as it gets to be a little bit warmer in the summer,” she said. “We’re looking forward to being able to spend more time up on the mountain and just enjoying family time.

“I love flowers and gardening, so it will be fun to just putter around in my yard and kind of have a little more time for those kinds of things, projects with my husband.”

The Beals will remain in Lovell, and Valerie will be close by to help the town if needed.

“I’m around if they have questions (at town hall),” she said. “Colleen will do a fabulous job. Ed is still here to help be her trainer, too. She’ll do really, really well.”

Beal appears to be departing on a high.

“I can’t say enough about the people that I worked with,” she said “We’ve just had such good people that I’ve worked with through the many years. I look forward to seeing the fun things that are going to happen in the near future, the parks and the things like that that are the next steps of progress. I can’t wait to see them.”

Nebel expressed praise for Beal as a “great steward” of town funds and working with funding agencies and engineers on projects.

“I feel like we’ve tried to be cautious and careful with it (town money) and keep track of it, knowing there’s projects those funds can be used for and have a little bit of that reserve on hand if we need to do a project,” she said. “It can certainly be a bit of seed money to use with the grants.”