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Shores Town Clerk Laura Aldrich retiring after 17 years

STORY BY LISA ZAHNER (Week of February 24, 2022)
Photo: Shores Town Clerk Laura Aldrich swearing in Public Safety Director Chief Rich Rosell in March 2015 with then-Town Manager Robbie Stabe looking on.

After nearly 17 years of service to the Town of Indian River Shores and a total of 23 years as a municipal clerk, Town Clerk Laura Aldrich is retiring, with this week’s town council meeting her final one.

Some colleagues remember the care she put into organizing the annual town Christmas party. Town officials say she always took time to explain things, and that she is an excellent listener.

Former Shores mayor Brian Barefoot, who now serves on the Indian River County School Board called Aldrich “Indian River Shores’ rock” because she’s been the constant that has held town government together since she joined the staff in August 2005.

“Laura is loyal to the town, she’s dealt with a number of town managers and council members, and lots of changes. She took care of all the residents’ requests and answered all their questions and we’re going to miss her,” Barefoot said. “She’s had a lot on her plate, and I wish her well.”

Former vice mayor Michael Ochsner – who was either a council or committee member for all of Aldrich’s tenure with the town – coincidentally used the same words, “the rock,” to describe Aldrich’s role of holding things together.

“Laura has great attention to detail, she’s a good listener and she understands the government structure, which is very different from the private sector that most of us come from. She always kept us pointed in the right direction and kept the ship steady,” Ochsner said.

“She’s been there the longest of the charter officers and she’s been through it all with numerous town managers, she knows the town and the ordinances and she’s also been a friend. I’m going to miss her personally and certainly the town is going to miss her,” Ochsner said.

Former vice mayor Jerry Weick worked closely with Aldrich on plans for the town’s new community center.

“Laura is very dependable and always took time to help people, and to help me. She gave me a lot of information about the community center events, what clubs meet there and input about the wants and needs of the residents, and that helped me in the design of the building,” Weick said. “I wish Laura well and thank her for her service. I’m going to miss her.”

Mayor Brian Foley remembers Aldrich helping him navigate the process of running for office and adjusting to his responsibilities as an elected official. “Laura is probably the first person to introduce each successive councilperson to town government,” Foley said. “Her contributions are self-evident, she’s probably the most dedicated town employee and is continuing to do her duties right up to the days she leaves. If anybody deserved an enjoyable retirement, it’s Laura.”

Former town manager Robbie Stabe probably knows Aldrich best of all, as they worked together for 13 years, nearly half of that in adjoining offices. “I worked with Certified Master Municipal Clerk Laura Aldrich the entire six years I spent as the town manager. She was one of the most selfless, loyal, and hard-working people I have had the privilege to work with,” Stabe said.

“The Town Council and the residents of Indian River Shores owe Laura a debt of gratitude. She always put others before herself and always went above and beyond. I sincerely hope she enjoys her retirement! She has certainly earned it,” Stabe said.

Clerking for local government has been a fourth career for Aldrich. After growing up in the Orlando area, both Aldrich and her sister enlisted in the U.S. Army, where Laura served five years. Then she worked 11 years for defense contractors, and seven years in the publishing industry.

“In 1988, I became a municipal clerk ‘inadvertently’ when I answered a newspaper ad for a city clerk and had no idea why they wanted me to come for an interview at 7 p.m. on a Monday evening (it was a council meeting). I thought it was a file clerk job,” Aldrich said.

She worked for nearly seven years in Mary Esther near Fort Walton Beach before signing on with Indian River Shores, where Aldrich would work alongside five different town managers, two town attorneys, 17 elected town council members and more than 70 appointed board and committee members.

Aldrich said the gained “tremendous satisfaction” carrying out her clerk duties and spearheading special projects like the town’s website, and the historical log of elected and appointed officials. She was active in the Florida Association of City Clerks, serving on a dozen committees over the years and earning the group’s highest professional designation of Master Municipal Clerk.

Aldrich plans to spend her newfound free time with her two sons and three grandchildren who live in Jacksonville, and her 97-year-old father. She wants to rekindle her passion for photography and process “thousands of old photos” she hasn’t had the chance to work on.

“I’m extremely blessed, grateful and honored,” Aldrich said of her service to the town, its residents and visitors. “I pray for wisdom for the leaders, now and in the future, to keep this wonderful Town moving forward in a positive manner.”

Town Manager Jim Harpring is in the process of compiling a job description to advertise for Aldrich’s replacement.