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Front Page » April 18, 2013 » Focus » Always partners in success...
Published 901 days ago

Always partners in success...

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Sun Advocate publisher

One cannot under estimate the value of good administrative assistants in the workplace.

In many organizations they are the glue that holds together a company or organization.

In some cases they darn near run the place.

For the last 10 years the Sun Advocate has been running a tribute to a few good women who serve in this capacity throughout the county.

To celebrate that decade, it's time to take a look back at the many people reporters at the paper have talked to about the importance of the position.

And that is appropriate because next week is Administrative Assistant week.

Most managers of business and organizations cannot describe how important a good administrative assistant is to them. From the beginning of yearly articles about the women that fill these jobs, employers were gushing.

Probably what marked almost every ones comments over the years, is the special relationship administrative assistants have to their bosses and to the organizations they work for. Never, in interviewing the 31 administrative assistants for the annual article did anyone find someone who didn't at the least really like their job, and most were absorbed by it.

In many of our interviews the paper talked with those in private industry. Charlotte MacKnight was with the Billie Sampinos Insurance Agency at the time (she now works for Price Insurance).

"One of the hardest things I do is to keep up with the way the world is advancing," she said in a 2004 interview. "We all do, to keep businesses afloat."

Paula Kunze who at the time worked as hospital administrator Jeff Manley's assistant at Castleview Hospital reported that she spent a lot of time keeping the calendars organized and setting up meetings for professional and departmental meetings.

"...keeping track of them and taking and keeping minutes are some of my main duties," she stated. "I, of course, also answer phones her in Jeff's office and try and be as nice as I can to everyone who calls."

Of course, as with any business, not all calls were (or are today) positive.

Carrie Ericson, who worked at Tram Electric also gave an interview about being an administrative assistant in a company related to the energy industry.

"I think the thing I like best about working here is dealing with an upbeat boss who allows me to be creative in what I do," she said at the time. "I deal with a lot of different things, many of which I had little knowledge of when I came to work here."

It seems because administrative assistants may all do some of the same things others do, that on the job training, especially about the ins and outs of various industries is an important part of what they experience. What an assistant at the college must know, really differs from what an assistant at a private business or industry must know. It's all about the details.

For Marlene Gurule, who works at City Sanitation the job started out doing a few things from home, and now has grown to many things at the office.

"When I started this job I was typing invoices and statements from home," she said in 2011 when she was celebrating her 30th year at the company. "At this point I am the office manager and I basically do a little bit of everything."

In many companies it is a team of assistants that find they are key to the operations of the firm.

At Electrical Contractors Incorporated Kris Wilson and Kasey DeCaro work together to make things happen and keep the office running smoothly.

"Just trying to get along with everyone," is an important part of the job said Wilson. She said that juggling time is one of the biggest problems with all the responsibilities.

DeCaro handled what they both called the "upside" of the payroll and that presents it's own challenges.

"Chasing down the answers to those problems can be challenging," she said, adding later that when paperwork doesn't show up from employees that is supposed to be their "it is like they have to answer to mom."

At Jones and DeMille Engineering Chelsea Conk found her job fun and complicated as she spent her days as she related in 2012 as the assistant to all the engineers working out of that office.

One of her comments was concerning difficulties that arise with customers at times.

"Dealing with people who are not nice is difficult," she said. "People hate what they don't understand. It's my job to explain what is going on to people. Often (the difficulties)involves a great deal of money."

Another kind of business that has boomed in recent years is the one of job placement. At Price Labor Finders Diane Olsen, the administrative assistant, handled a lot of the business as it came in the door. She talked with the Sun Advocate right in the middle of the recession, and felt bad about people who they could not find positions for, yet felt good about what they did to help employers and employees that were qualified to fill positions.

"It's been slow and very hard for a lot of people," she said at the time. "For employers we always seem to have someone to fill in where they need it, but having to turn people away that are looking for work is difficult."

In public schools, what most people knew while the grew up was that the secretary in the school could get just about anything done and knew everything that was going on.

Over the decade the Sun Advocate covered all levels of schools from elementary assistants to USU Eastern.

Joyce Branson, who still works at Helper Junior High was the first school secretary interviewed in the series over the years.

"In my job I have the clerical stuff to do, but so much of my responsibility has to do with dealing with the kids," she said. "I enjoy the students; it's an added bonus to being a secretary in a school."

Lianne Milovich and Cindy Pero were interviewed at the same time because they shared the duties of running the office at Carbon High School.

"Students come to the office for help and advice, and we can usually get them what they need," said Milovich. "I'm usually their first contact when the come to the office and I really enjoy that."

To round out interviews with school assistants the paper also talked with Ricki Palmer who was the secretary at Petersen Elementary in Sunnyside before moving with everyone else to Bruin Point Elementary when it was built.

"I really feel like the schools mother on most days," she said at the time."

At the college the changes over the years were some of the highlights of some administrative assistants who were interviewed.

Verna Lauritsen, who is also now retired, was interviewed when she was Brad King's assistant at then CEU, and she brought up some things about what happened when she started at the college.

"I and two other people in the office got brand new electric typewriters," she said referring to 1980. "It wasn't long after that that computers started showing up on everyones desks."

She later became Jay Andrus' assistant in the old SAC building for many years.

Two secretaries who were the assistants to the top administrators at the college were also interviewed over the years. The first was Judy Bartholomew who is now retired was at the time the administrative assistant to the President of the College of Eastern Utah, Ryan Thomas.

"I just try to assist the President to keep the ship afloat," she stated. "Every day is different with new problems to handle or a new catastrophe to face."

In 2010 after CEU became USU-Eastern Darla Cloward who is the administrative assistant to Chancellor Joe Peterson today was interviewed. Starting with the college in 1985, she has a long history with the school, seeing the many changes over the years.

"After you have been someplace for so long you do have a love and a dedication for it," she said. "I love the energy that I feel from the students; they are filled with enthusiasms purpose and it's contagious. It keeps me young."

Then there are the institutions such as the county, agencies, quasi-government agencies and others. Administrative assistants are important to all these kinds of operations.

Genelle Howell came from a bit different world than most of the others interviewed. She was at the time of her talk with the Sun Advocate a contractor working for two water entities, a doctor and a lawyer.

"There is never a typical day for me," she said. "There are also no slow days. I find that people who have slow days in the jobs generally are not trying to do the extra to make what they do better."

Sandy Lehman still works for Carbon County years after her interview and is still the one that helps keeps the Carbon County Commission operating, even though not one commissioner she worked for in 2004 is in office today.

"My biggest frustration is that I can't help everyone wit their problems," she said a the time, referring to both county employees and the public that come into her office. "Some of the things people bring in here are problems we just don't or can't deal with."

Lacy Curtis of Four Corners Behavioral Health interviewed in 2008 and at the time she had been there for four years. Once of the first faces people saw when they enter the facility she worked to brighten the spirit of everyone she talked to.

"I really like helping my community and it helps that I work with really great people."

Channa Anderson of the Utah Adult Probation and Parole was interviewed in 2009. In her office she was known as an Agent Assistant at the time. She handled all pre-sentence investigation referrals, orders to show cause and other paper work for Judge Douglas B. Thomas. Along with some other of her duties that may have sounded daunting work, with a lot of negativity involved but she felt otherwise.

"I love my job because I love the people I work with," she said at the time. "They support me in everything I do and the watch out for me."

It's seems impossible for so many people, including the ones not mentioned that were interviewed to be so happy with what they do. But that was the expressions all gave. And all were and are very effective at their jobs and supporting the businesses and organizations they worked for.

So the Sun Advocate salutes administrative assistants everywhere in our area, and we look forward to another decade of meeting you and hearing your stories.

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April 18, 2013
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