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Onica named clerk of the year



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June 18, 2014 - Atlas Twp.-There are 1,240 townships in Michigan, each with a clerk.

And for 2014, Atlas Township has the very best.

Last week the Michigan Association of Municipal Clerks selected Tere Onica the 2014 Township Clerk of the Year.

She will receive the award during the June 26 MAMC summer conference at the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel in Grand Rapids. The award is voted on by municipal clerks statewide.

Onica was first appointed clerk of Atlas Township 12 days before the November 2000 presidential election. With no election experience, she met the challenge head on, tackling a mountain of absentee ballots, training election inspectors, and training herself.

"That first election we had 76 percent turnout, George Bush versus Al Gore and punch card style voting machines," laughed Onica. "To top it off we had four write-in candidates, then after the election I was given five pages of charges regarding the problems with the elections. I thought, 'I'm going to jail.' Rob Coffman, director of Elections for Genesee County, helped me resolve the alleged issues. I'm still here."

Her introduction to the office of township clerk set the bar high for her future performance.

"The clerking profession is astounding in its scope and diversity," said Onica. "This is a profession that demands exceptional performance. Clerks across the state of Michigan are very astute in sharing resources and information, providing educational opportunities, professional development, and networking. It is a thrill and an honor to be recognized by my profession; it is also very humbling because there are so many people who have inspired me in so many ways to be a better clerk, to work smarter, to set and follow higher standards as I perform the duties of my office."

"I have to thank God for his divine intervention that led Eileen Sweet to encourage me to run for office and the taxpayers of Atlas Township for affording me the privilege to be a part of the MAMC, IIMC, MTA and Genesee County Clerks Association," she said. "I never imagined that I could be so blessed by my family, church, friends, community and peers."

In the 14 years she has been clerk, Onica's efforts have made a difference in Atlas Township. She was the first Genesee County clerk to receive the Optech M-100 and one of the first clerks to use the E-Poll Book. Working with her board of trustees, she implemented computerized accounting systems for accounts payable and general ledger. She had board support to outsource payroll and send large contracts out for competitive bid with a cumulative savings of $100,000. She worked with the board to initiate a Leaders of Tomorrow Program, mentoring high school students on township boards. Under her tenure, state-of-the-art improvements were made to board agendas, minutes and document storage and retrieval.

Onica received her certified municipal clerk designation in 2003 and she was awarded Genesee County Clerk of the Year.

She is involved outside her Atlas Township Clerk's Office in the community. She is the Sunday School superintendent for Lakeview Community Church, Goodrich High School Equestrian Team coach, and horse sponsor for therapeutic horse riding at Amazing Wings. In June 2013, Onica helped sponsor a chicken dinner fundraiser to assist families who suffered financially from a flood in her community.

Onica realizes many things have happened since beginning the journey as a Certified Municipal Clerk. She said the bottom line is she cares about her profession and being professional; she cares about her community and is community minded; she has taken measures to uphold the public trust and work with integrity.

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