JEFFERSON, S.D. (KCAU) — From school bus driver to city finance officer and even neighborhood welcome wagon, Michaeleen Roark is described as the glue that held Jefferson together for decades.
Monday through Friday, you’ll find Roark loading up the Jefferson school bus.
Through sleet or snow and county roads, Roark is like a mother and grandmother to many, literally and figuratively.
“My mom started working when I was in grade school and that just wasn’t very common back then. So she started working so you know it was just one of those things, you come home, you just stepped up and helped out as best as you could and I just continued to do that,” said Roark.
Roark has been a volunteer EMT since 1993. She’s been Jefferson’s finance officer since 1991. Her dedication to her neighbors and friends goes beyond her hours at city hall.
“I do their year-end taxes, I issue building permits. like I said, I do all the aspects of the book, sales tax, workman’s comp. I keep track of their insurance policies, support for the police department when they need something.”
Community members say Roark has been the glue that holds the town of Jefferson together.
“It’s because it’s the community and if I don’t help the community, I just feel like I let myself down. and where do I find the time? Hey, I got a lot of time,” said Roark.
But the past year has been challenging. Machaeleen’s husband and best friend died last year.
“It’s been hard. but there are times that I will ask his picture, what should I do? How do I handle this? He was never afraid to just let me, be me. I have a very strong personality. I’m very driven. So if I get something in my head it’s usually, I just do it,” Roark said.
Just do it is Michaeleen’s motto. She said she always has to be on the move and is always up to something.
“I always said you know what, one day when I’m 65, I can sit and relax. I’ll have a spotless house, I’ll have all kinds of time, and for what?” asks Roark.
Roark didn’t plan it that way.
“I just feel like as somebody that works for the city, or there’s something going on that people need help with that I should do that. I should represent the city and be that helping hand if I can be,” said Roark.
But she said she hopes it won’t ever change.