Albany to host city clerks' conference

ALBANY, Ga. — City Clerk Sonja Tolbert told The Albany Herald in a recent interview that her being a member of the International Institute of Municipal Clerks board could end up paying dividends for the city at some point.

Those words proved prophetic at a recent monthly IIMC meeting.

The organization announced at its October meeting in Macon that Albany had been chosen to host the IIMC's yearly Regional Conference in January of 2014, a meeting that will likely bring more than 100 of the organization's members here.

"We're so excited to be selected to host the conference," Tolbert said. "I'm so proud of the presentation Rashelle (Beasley) with the Convention and Visitors Bureau and Tommy (Gregors) with the Thronateeska Heritage Center put together for the committee making the decision.

"They really razzle-dazzled them."

Since four other states — Alabama, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina — are part of Region 3, each state hosts the regional conference only once every five years. When Tolbert learned during a board meeting that a committee would soon start looking for a Georgia host city, she went to work.

She got permission to put together a proposal for the conference and started working with Beasley, Gregors and others to make sure a plan was in place.

"By the time the committee started asking for proposals (to host the conference), we were ready," Tolbert said.

When committee members came to Albany for a site visit, officials here literally rolled out the red carpet.

"We met them at the hotel and really rolled out the red carpet for them," Beasley said. "We gave them the grand tour, prepared gift boxes for them. And Tommy really impressed them with his plans to offer a class on archiving records.

"When we finished our tour, we brought them back to the CVB and held a little reception for them, gave them a preview of what they could expect. I think they were impressed: We got thank-you notes from all of them."

Tolbert said she is working to confirm that a session on archiving, which Gregors has volunteered to teach, will be approved for certification credit.

"I think it will be a valuable session, because keeping accurate records that are readily available to the public is state law now," she said. "And Tommy does a great job of showing what he and his team are doing at Thronateeska for the city and other agencies."

Those details and others will be worked out in the year-plus before the conference arrives.

"We'll be ready," Tolbert said. "I think this is going to be an opportunity to shine a positive light on our city. Some people question the travel we do sometimes for certification and education. But if I hadn't attended (IIMC) meetings on behalf of the city, I never would have known about this opportunity."