TORRINGTON — In 2000, Maxine Mitchell was working at the elementary school in Torrington as a secretary when she was approached by Sharon Knaub, the Goshen County treasurer.
“She asked if I would be interested in being her deputy,” she said. “‘As long as I’m working with people,’ I said, ‘it wouldn’t be much different.’ I’m a people person. I like working with people.”
Her upbringing, growing up on the Wyoming prairie, prepared her for the work.
“I was brought up a country girl north of Lusk,” she said. “I was very isolated, so when I got to go to school I just loved it because I got to have friends. My first five or six years alive, it was just my brother and I.”
Maxine had to learn how to do the job on the job, relying on her people skills
“I knew nothing,” she said. “I knew who the treasurer was, because that’s the most common person in the courthouse that you see because you see the treasurer every time you have a vehicle to register and once or twice a year when you pay your taxes. I didn’t know the rest of the officials, I was excited to come to work and learn something new.
“We’re the bank for the county. The assessor assesses the property and tell us how much people owe, so we bill and collect taxes, we keep track of delinquent taxes, and have the tax sale for those that don’t pay, and sell 23 different license plates to get people’s transportation needs met and their vehicles current.”
On the one hand, Mitchell said, being in the treasurer’s office can be difficult because it is tied to taxes.
“It’s not the most popular office in the courthouse, I can tell you that,” she said. “Who likes to come in and hand over their money? But that’s the job they put me in this office to do, and I’ve tried to do the best job I can.”
On the other hand, for a people person, the job is a dream because nearly every person in the county stops by.
“You get to work with and see everybody,” she said. “The base of our county are farmers and ranchers, and those are the people who don’t move. They come in every year, they pay their taxes on time, they keep their vehicles up. I’m here to accomplish their needs, in whatever way possible, in a pleasant and timely manner.”
After working in the office for 10 years as deputy treasurer, Mitchell won the treasurer position in 2010.
“My dad was a county commissioner for 16 years in Niobrara County,” she said. “He said there’s no greater reward than working for the people of your county. You try to do what’s best for them.”
She drew upon her previous experience as a school secretary to help organize the office.
“You have to get information out to students, staff, and parents (as a secretary),” she said. “I had a lot of practice at the school to get me ready for this.”
This year, Mitchell decided not to run again for the office. She may spend some time working on the family ranch north of Lusk, but primarily she looks forward to enjoying life.
“This is a rewarding job, but it’s a high stress job,” she said. “My husband and I are going to do things. We’re not going to travel the world, but we’ve got six grandchildren and I’ve missed lots of ballgames. I’d like to go to them.”
As the days roll by and she gets closer and closer to retiring, Mitchell said she is looking forward to her retirement.
“I’m going to miss (the job),” she said, “but I’m getting more and more excited.”