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After 26 years, Essex County clerk Mary Birch set to retire


A mentor, confident and loyal friend.

That is how Essex County Warden Hilda MacDonald described retiring clerk Mary Birch at Birch’s final council meeting last Wednesday night.

Prior to a standing ovation, MacDonald had high praise for Birch who steps down as not only the clerk but the director of legislative and community services.

“We are grateful for her legacy at the County of Essex and look forward to helping celebrate her retirement later this month,” said MacDonald, the Mayor of Leamington.

Birch’s official last day is March 26 and according to CAO Sandra Zwiers a replacement has not been found and the recruitment process is ongoing.

Starting her municipal government career with the county back in 1988 as an intern in the human resources department, Birch worked at the Town of Essex while still at the University of Windsor. She became the accounts payable clerk in Belle River (now part of Lakeshore) before moving over to Colchester North (now part of Essex) as the deputy clerk/deputy treasurer.

Birch came to work full-time for the County of Essex in 1998 just as amalgamation was beginning and the 21 municipalities of the day were being cut down to the current seven.

“Mary has the respect of regional, provincial and federal elected officials, community leaders, and public servants with whom she has worked co-operatively and effectively over three decades,” said MacDonald.

Not only has Birch filled the roll of clerk and director but on more than one occasion, when the county did not have a CAO, it turned to her to take on the duties on an interim basis. In 2022, she was honoured with a Certificate of Appreciation from the Association of Municipal Clerks and Treasurers of Ontario.

When asked by the River Town Times what she considered to be her greatest accomplishment over 26 years with the county, the retiring clerk was somewhat at a loss for words however, she did have some sound advice for her eventual replacement.

“I would say to collaborate with the rest of the senior leadership team and whatever advice you bring to council to make sure to bring advice that is going to help make the decision in the best way possible for the entire county.”

Birch said she is going to miss the people she worked with over the years and acknowledged she has made a lot of friends.

Upon retirement she is getting married in May and looks forward to spending time with grandchildren.

At the end of Wednesday night’s council meeting, her last, many county councillors requested a photo taken with the outgoing clerk and it was Birch who cut into the first piece of a large cake outside of chambers.

After 26 years, Essex County clerk Mary Birch set to retire By Fred Groves


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