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Cornelius News

Town clerk helps town government run smoothly

Lori Harrell

Jan. 23. By Dave Vieser. Dec. 4 was a memorable night at Cornelius Town Hall. Not only was Woody Washam installed for his fourth term as mayor, but three new commissioners joined the Town Board.

Town Clerk Lori Harrell gave the oath of office to commissioners Micheal Osborne, Scott Higgins and Todd Sansbury.

“Lori is the glue that holds our town together,” Washam said.

Born and raised in the suburbs of Detroit, she moved to North Carolina in 1999.

Most of her professional career has been in the administrative assistant arena.

Working for Cornelius since 2005

Her first public sector job began in 2005 in the Cornelius Planning Department.

Local development was booming, and the green administrative assistant “had no clue about local government or politics.”

When former clerk Carolyn Sigmon retired in 2009, “I found my answer to the ‘what do you want to do when you grow up’ question and pursued the Town Clerk position.”

She earned her degree as a Master Certified Clerk from the UNC School of Government, the first clerk for Cornelius to hold that certification.

Every day is different

The town clerk is responsible for maintaining vital records, as well as performing various administrative duties as required by the town. Her most visible task is to prepare the agenda and take copious notes for the twice-monthly Town Board meeting. She works closely with Town Manager Andrew Grant who says she tackles each task with the same level of enthusiasm.

Harrell has long days most especially when the board meets. On those Mondays, her days begin at 8 a.m., sometimes not ending until 10 or 11 p.m.

The pay: About $85,000 a year.

On a personal note

When not at work, she spends quality time with her husband Sam in their new home in Denver. They have four adult children and five grandchildren, with one more due in January.

What else does she do when not working?

“I love to travel, fish, ride motorcycles, camp, and be near any body of water to relax,” she said.

On Lake Norman?

“No,” said Harrell. “My favorite spot is Aruba.”