Groton finance officer Anita Lowary retiring

By Katherine Grandstrand of the Aberdeen, SD American News; Originally appeared online at AberdeenNews.com; reprinted with permission

Anita Lowary looks back at her 36 years with the city

Anita Lowary has been a longtime presence at Heartland functions and events. She served on the Heartland Board of Directors from 1998-2006 and was a member of Heartland’s Customer Connections Committee from YEAR to 2017.

After 36 years, Groton’s finance officer is putting away her calculator.

“I am not the record holder, by any means,” Anita Lowary said.

As far as Lowary could remember, that record is held by a former deputy who put in 44 years before he retired.

“Statewide, a lot of people (finance officers) make it 40 years. I’m not going to last that long,” she said of her retirement. Her last day will be June 30.

Lowary is originally from Gettysburg and is a Northern State University alumna. After that, “I guess you could say I married the town,” she said. Her husband is a graduate of Groton High School.

“We moved back to town and, before you knew it, I was working for the city,” she said.

From day one to now, things have changed, of course, and despite several advances in technology, Lowary said today’s “paperless society” isn’t all that paperless.

“There’s more paperwork every year. There’s a lot more going on,” she said.

In the 1980s, the city of Groton “thought we had everything we needed as far as infrastructure,” she said. But that infrastructure aged, and projects have replaced pipes and water lines.

There’s been bigger community-driven projects, too, such as the swimming pool built in 2009.

The reconstruction of Main Street in 2005 tops Lowary’s list, too.

There have also been several different grants for park equipment, which Lowary said is a big deal for her. In fact, new playground equipment will be installed at the baseball complex this year.

There’s one big project that will remain undone before Lowary leaves, however. The city is applying for grants now for a new water tower. “I had hoped for one before I left, but it just didn’t work out that way,” she said.

Groton’s tower will be 97 this year, she said. “Before it’s 100, we want to get that down. Most are meant to last about 50 years. They built this one really well,” she said.

Lowary has worked with five different mayors. “I’ve had a good working relationship with my council and I think we’ve accomplished a lot in a small town,” she said.

Groton Mayor Scott Hanlon read Lowary’s resignation at the April 3 city council meeting. All but one council member, Eddy Opp, voted to accept it.

“I want her to stay, but she won’t,” Opp explained by phone Friday. “She was a good finance officer for many years. I’m not glad to see her go, but I don’t blame her.”

Lowary was inducted into the South Dakota Municipal League Hall of Fame in 2010 and currently serves as the League’s 2nd Vice President. She is a past president, vice president and secretary of the South Dakota Government Finance Officers Association and served on the American Public Power Association Advisory Committee from 2005-2006.

Opp is in his eighth year on the Groton City Council. He’s worked with Lowary for several years though, as he’s been with the Groton Police Department, the street department and served as a volunteer firefighter, he said.

The mixed reaction of the council mirrors how some community members feel about Lowary’s retirement. “Some are really just happy to hear that I’m retiring. Some of them are glad for me, some have said, ‘What will we do,’” she said. “It’s been a real spread of emotions there.”

Lowary will begin her retirement by giving her 96-year-old mother every minute she can.

She hopes to travel, too, and cross some things off her list. “Maybe I’ll get some of the 150 incomplete projects I have at home done,” she joked.

But unlike her early years with the city, none of that spare time will be spent studying city ordinances and laws. “It took me 36 years (to learn the laws the city has to adhere to),” she said. “I will confess: the first few years, I was reading ordinances in my spare time.”

Of course, those ordinances sometimes change as the city does.

Every day is different, Lowary said. “You never know what you’re going to do when you come to work. It all depends on what the citizens need.

“I’ve loved every minute of it, except for when I was mad about something,” she said.

The deadline to apply for finance officer is May 15. The city of Groton is hoping to hire someone as soon as possible so they can work with Lowary before June 30.

How will someone new fill the shoes she’s been wearing for more than three decades?

“Hopefully very well,” she said. “We’re all replaceable.”

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