Haigler reflects on time as Maplesville town clerkBy Emily Beckett Published 11:13am Friday, April 25, 2014
Sheila Haigler is enjoying life at her own pace now.
Haigler retired from her position as town clerk of Maplesville in March, marking the end of nine years and seven months of service to the town.
“I really enjoyed my time there,” Haigler said. “It was good for me, and I think it was the right thing for the town, but God closes the door and when he does, it’s time to go home.”
Haigler’s tenure as town clerk was shorter than she initially thought it would be.
Haigler, 55, was diagnosed with breast cancer in December 2012.
After undergoing a partial mastectomy, she started radiation treatments last January, chemotherapy in March and finished treatments in June, all while maintaining her regular work schedule for the town.
“I never missed a council meeting,” Haigler said. “I only missed one court date due to radiation in Birmingham. I was consistent with my job, but my body just never really had a chance to heal from the radiation and the chemo.”
With encouragement from her husband, David, Haigler decided to retire and take a much-needed break from working full-time.
“David had always said he wanted me to come home, and I told him when I got my 25 years of service in with the state that I would,” she said. “But when I had cancer, things changed for me, and when I realized through my cancer how precious life was, I decided that’s what I needed to do.”
While serving as town clerk, Haigler worked with four mayors, 15 council members, three police chiefs and three court clerks.
When she started the job more than nine years ago, Haigler said the town had five pending grants for projects including the train depot, sewer, sidewalks and street lights and parks.
“During my time here, we completed a total of about nine grants in all,” she said. “When I retired, the town was debt-free, and I’m very proud of that. It wasn’t anything I did, but we all worked together.”
Haigler also had to learn how to use the computer system the town implemented just before she was hired as town clerk.
“That was probably the town’s biggest change,” Haigler said. “Before that, they did everything by hand.”
Other significant changes Haigler noted were South Coast Paper opening in Maplesville, the Maplesville Public Library opening next to town hall, and the town renovating employee offices earlier this year.
Amid her usual duties like payroll, Haigler said she enjoyed assisting people who called or stopped by town hall, whether they were Maplesville residents needing a phone number or out-of-town guests needing directions.
“I enjoyed helping the people in the community probably more than anything else,” she said. “That means a lot to people because they need that information, and that’s what you’re there for – to serve the public.”
Prior to being town clerk, Haigler worked for the Chilton County Board of Education for 16 years at Maplesville High School.
She was a lunchroom assistant for 10 years and a lunchroom manager for six years.
“I left Maplesville High School because I felt like I needed a break, but after I stayed home for three months, I got bored,” Haigler said. “My kids had graduated. That’s when the job came open at town hall, and I just felt like that was God’s way of opening a door.”
Haigler was already familiar with the daily functioning of the town since she occasionally helped out at town hall and the water board.
She was also appointed to serve for a year on the town council when the late Tim Mims, who was the District 1 councilman at the time, took former Mayor Billy Dennis’ place after Dennis died during his term.
“When they were looking for a clerk, I just thought this would be a perfect opportunity,” Haigler said.
Her ties to the town go back even further.
Haigler’s father was in the U.S. Air Force, and when she and her family returned to the U.S. from where her father was stationed in Vietnam, they settled in Maplesville near relatives.
She attended first grade at Maplesville, second grade in Tampa during her family’s brief stint there, and part of third grade at Maplesville again when her family moved back permanently.
Her father, Bill Grover, was the town’s police chief in the 1970s.
Haigler has lived in Maplesville for about 45 years.
She and her husband have two children, Christopher and Christy, and are members at Maplesville Baptist Church.
The town held a retirement party for Haigler on April 14 at the public library.
Her former colleagues gave her a crystal vase in appreciation for her service to the town, along with several charms related to surviving cancer for her Pandora bracelet.
“I really had a good time, and I appreciated the town doing that,” Haigler said.
In recent weeks, she has stayed busy with fundraising and preparations for Relay For Life.
Haigler plans to spend more time with her family, to garden and to catch up on reading books people have given her, but she said she also plans to remain involved with the town through the annual Toys for Kids program, Story Hour in the library, Heritage Day and possibly an elected office someday.
“I don’t know what God has in store for me, but I do know he has a plan,” Haigler said. “I want to do what he wants me to do, whether that’s finding a part-time job later or running for mayor.
“I had always thought I would be at the town hall forever, but when I was diagnosed, it made me really stop and think just how precious life is.”