REEDSPORT — A city hall veteran is stepping down after more than three decades.
Caryn Kaufmann, who started working for the city in March 1983 and currently is the payroll and accounts payable clerk, has accepted a position as secretary-treasurer for the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers District W 24.
She'll work in the union's Gladstone, Ore. office.
Kaufmann explained that in addition to representing city workers in Reedsport, the union represents some of the Weyerhaeuser bargaining units, a few of the Georgia-Pacific ones, and some of the Boeing units.
"We started out mainly in the wood products on the machinists' side, so that's the reason for the 'W' (in the union name)," Kaufmann said.
Her last day will be Jan. 28.
She was born in Myrtle Point and grew up in the Coos Bay-Sumner area, graduating from Marshfield High School in 1980.
When she and her husband Ron first got married, she didn't have a job. But she did have a friend who worked for the FBI. "He told me, 'I think you'd make a good dispatcher,'" she recalled.
Kaufmann gave it a shot and landed a Reedsport police dispatcher position.
In January 1987, she transferred to city hall, working there as the planning secretary and utility clerk. Payroll duties were added to her workload in 1988, and in May 1990, the former Coos Bay resident started her role as planning and payroll secretary.
In 2006, she started serving citizens in accounts payable.
She reflected on her time with the small, tight-knit community.
"It's hard for me to almost fathom that right now, you know?" she said of her almost 33 years of working in various city roles.
On a blustery, rainy mid-December day, her desk space was bedecked with holiday snowmen, and a wide array of house plants, mainly African violets and some cactus.
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"I love the public," Kaufmann said. "I love helping the community and the citizens."
However, sometimes it can be tricky if someone is angry with city services or an employee.
"You have to be nice to the public," Kaufmann said. "They have to vent sometimes, and so you have to be a sounding board. Customer service is the No. 1 goal when somebody walks through that door. That kind of wraps it up, because I've always been customer oriented. I don't know how not to do it."
She and Ron have one son, Chris, 28. He lives in Clackamas, and he his wife are expecting a baby girl in early March.
The Kaufmanns have a variety of hobbies.
"We like to hike," she said. "We like to walk in town a lot."
They ride their Harleys, too, and she loves travel.
"There's so much to do in the states yet. Why go overseas? I'd like to, though," she said. Kaufmann wants to visit Germany "because that's where Ron's family's from."
Kaufmann attends Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church. She used to help out at the church, but these days, she spends more time trying to make a difference at the Reedsport Community Charter School. In the last several years, she's volunteered as an ASPIRE mentor. ASPIRE matches adults with high school juniors and seniors, helping them get college scholarships, answering graduation inquiries and for other related reasons.
"And then I cook hamburgers and hot dogs for home football games," Kaufmann said.
Keith Tymchuk works as a teacher at the Reedsport Community Charter School and served six terms as mayor. He praised her.
Tymchuk said she's a person someone can rely on, learn from and respect and who has made City Hall a wonderful place for everyone.
She reflected a bit more on her coworkers, whom she also considers friends.
"I know I'm going to miss them and the friendships that we have there. I wish them the pursuits too," the veteran city employee said. "I'm going to miss those office staff. I've been there the longest, so I'll miss them all."