On Monday, December 13, Mayor Johnny Magee, City Clerk Mary Ann Hess and other members of city hall welcomed Sheri Pierce, MMC president of the International Institute of Municipal Clerks (IIMC) to Laurel.
Pierce, who leads the 15,000-member organization that serves municipalities around the world, is spending some time in Laurel as part of a larger tour of the southeast. She began her trip last week in Natchitoches, Louisiana where she attended the IIMC Region IV meeting. She will travel from Laurel to Jackson later this week to speak at Mississippi’s state municipal conference.
During her visit to city hall, she was presented with a proclamation from Mayor Johnny Magee.
The proclamation read as follows:
“Whereas, the International Institute of Municipal Clerks (IIMC) is a non-profit association that promotes continuing education and professional development of municipal clerks around the globe through extensive education programs, certifications, publications, networking, annual conferences and research; and
Whereas, founded in 1947, the International Institute of Municipal Clerks is the leading and largest professional nonprofit association serving the needs of municipal clerks worldwide, and with approximately 15,000 members, IIMC represents municipalities of less than 500 to more than 10 million; and
Whereas, the City of Laurel is honored to welcome to City Hall today the IIMC President and City Clerk of Valdez, Alaska, Sheri L. Pierce, MMC, who is visiting the southeastern United States as part of her travels to regional conferences as well as her efforts to meet with as many municipal clerks as possible;
Now, therefore, I, Johnny Magee, Mayor of the City of Laurel, do hereby officially welcome Sheri L. Pierce, MMC to Laurel, Mississippi- the City Beautiful, and encourage all citizens to join me in expressing appreciation to IIMC President Pierce for her visit and in saluting this noteworthy organization for its important work.”
Pierce thanked the mayor and members of city hall for their warm welcome and said that she would frame the proclamation when she got home.
It will not, however, be her only reminder of the trip. During a brief interview following the presentation of the proclamation, Pierce explained that she had been impressed with the city and had seen several things in Laurel that she wanted to incorporate into her city’s future plans. She was particularly inspired by the beauty of the city.
“It’s breathtaking,” she said. “Laurel is a beautiful city.” She was especially impressed by the city’s homes and its infrastructure and the way that the city is decorated for the Christmas holidays. Even though she was impressed with the city’s history and architecture, one thing stood out to her above everything else—the southern hospitality. “Everyone has been so kind to me,” she said citing it as her favorite part of the trip.
Pierce has been with the IIMC for 33 years and has served the city of Valdez, Alaska since that time as well. The Portland, Oregon native moved to Alaska after the birth of her son, Ryan, to get a change of pace. Soon after she and her family moved into town, many others followed suit as the area gained worldwide news coverage as the result the Valdez oil spill.
“The city went from a population of 4,000 people to 10,000 people in town in just four or five days,” she recalled. The city was desperate for help, so Pierce, who had several years of experience working with the police department in Portland, stepped up. She’s been there ever since. Her son, now 35, lives in Anchorage and works for the University of Anchorage. She and her husband, John, live in Valdez (pronounced Val-DEEZ).