- Associated Press - Friday, May 23, 2014

NETTLETON, Miss. (AP) - Anyone looking to find a smile on Dana Burcham’s face should drop by Nettleton City Hall at the end of the month.

“When I balance the books, I’m thrilled. I’m overjoyed,” she said without a hint of sarcasm.

Burcham, a 38-year-old mother of three, is her hometown’s city clerk. When she was in high school, she met the town’s deputy city clerk, and that put Burcham on the path.

“I told my parents that’s what I wanted to do,” she said.

She stepped into the deputy city clerk position in 2001. She was later promoted to court clerk then she ran for the city clerk vacancy during a 2011 special election and retained the job after a 2013 regular election.

The best part of the election is “after it’s all over with and you get the results. That’s it. An election is just stressful,” Burcham said.

By comparison, balancing the city’s budget, handling payroll and taking minutes at board meetings is reason enough to smile.

“Everything is not so cozy all the time though,” she said. “We deal with a lot of people.”

Some aren’t pleased with the high cost of water when they pay their bills. Burcham also helps the city’s part-time court clerk, Sherry Garrett, with warrants and fines, and those situations don’t always go as smoothly as she might want.

“I have learned in this job that you can’t please everyone,” Burcham said. “When it’s dealing with the taxpayer’s money, they want everything right.”

That’s where Burcham’s self-professed love for balancing the books comes in handy.

“The mayor’s got a joke about a paper clip. There was one on the floor. It was bent up, and he was about to put it in the garbage, but he thought about me and saved it,” she said with a smile.

No matter how much she enjoys her job, Burcham needs her downtime, too. A good antidote for working indoors all week is to go outdoors.

Burcham and her husband recently took their 3-year-old on a tour of creek banks to catch crawdads.

“I put them in the aquarium we have,” she said. “I’ll sit and watch them instead of turning the TV on.”

For longer getaways, she likes to visit the mountains in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.

“It’s so peaceful there,” she said. “I love to go on nature trails. That’s one of my hobbies.”

But there’s always something to be done back home, even if it isn’t part of her official duties.

A lifelong member of First United Methodist Church in Nettleton, she belongs to United Methodist Women and is the Sunday school superintendent.

She’s also a member of the Friends of Nettleton, a committee to improve the town’s quality of life. The group held a ladies luncheon recently, and the farmers market is getting ready to open.

The Friends’ long-range plans include a new city park, but there are obstacles in the way that are shaped very much like dollar signs.

She’s applying for grants for the park, and also hopes more of Nettleton’s residents will join the effort.

“People think that the city has tons of money to do parks,” she said. “They don’t realize one swing set is $2,000, and that’s a small swing set. For a whole park, it’s $45,000.”

As for her official duties, Burcham said she plans to keep smiling and balancing budgets, as long as her fellow residents will let her. The next election is in 2017.

“I’m worried about it now. That’s just me,” she said. “I tell people, ‘I know worrying is a sin, and I’m guilty of it.’”

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Information from: Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, https://djournal.com


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