Bliss resigns as Three Rivers city clerk

Bliss to take position at county in January

THREE RIVERS — Three Rivers City Clerk Melissa Bliss has officially tendered her resignation as clerk, effective Jan. 8.

The announcement came unexpectedly at the end of the commissioner comments section of Tuesday’s Three Rivers City Commission meeting, when Mayor Tom Lowry asked City Manager Joe Bippus if they were “ready to speak about somebody who you [Bippus] said has tendered a resignation?” The resignation was not on the agenda for the meeting.

In an interview with the Commercial-News Wednesday, Bliss, who has been city clerk since 2013, said her resignation was due to taking a position in the St. Joseph County Clerk’s office, which will start Jan. 11.

“I was really ready to pursue other opportunities, and I accepted a position that will assist me in growing in my profession as a clerk,” Bliss said. “It’s an opportunity to work in a larger organization and learn more about the services the county provides to our residents.”

Bliss said her career move will not affect her role as Executive Director of the Three Rivers Area Community Foundation or her role as a member of the Three Rivers Community Schools Board of Education, which she was elected to in November.

“I’ll continue to stay involved in Three Rivers,” Bliss said. “I think at the county level, there’s a few more opportunities there for me to grow, as I want to stay in the clerk’s profession.”

Bliss said Leslie Wilson, the current deputy director of finance and administration with the city, will be the interim clerk once Bliss leaves office, which Bippus confirmed Wednesday would be the case. The clerk’s position has also been publicly posted, with Bippus saying a permanent appointment could be made in “January or February.”

This is the second departure from the City Clerk’s office in the past month and a half, with Deputy Clerk Teresa Ives tendering her resignation back in November.

During Tuesday’s city commission meeting, Mayor Tom Lowry and various city officials thanked Bliss for her time as clerk. Lowry wished Bliss good wishes in her future endeavors.

“I thank her for all of her years of service here, because you’ve gone through a lot of troublesome meetings and some tough elections, and I wish you the best in your future,” Lowry said.

At-Large Commissioner Clayton Lyczynski said he was “sad [Bliss] was leaving.” Bippus praised Bliss for her work over the years.

“I’ve worked with Melissa for 10 years, I brought her into this organization knowing after the first time I met her, she was the perfect person to lead the Three Rivers [Area Community] Foundation, and she just grew and blossomed from there,” Bippus said. “We kept giving her more and more responsibility, and she just handled it with ease and grace, and she’s done a great job and I’m sorry to see her leave. Coming from just being the foundation person to then being a deputy city clerk and then handling the city clerk position plus the foundation, she just did an amazing job and I’m disappointed and sorry to see her leave.”

City Attorney J. Patrick O’Malley also wished Bliss well.

“A city clerk is so important, and particularly important to a city attorney,” O’Malley said. “We could not function without a good city clerk.”

Bliss said Wednesday she will miss a lot about the city clerk position, and said she looks forward to her new role with the county.

“I’ve really enjoyed my time in Three Rivers. Starting out, Joe [Bippus] really provided me with a lot of opportunities, the city recognizing my abilities and promoting me to city clerk, and it opened a lot of doors for me to become involved,” Bliss said. “I really met a lot of great people, and I enjoyed working the elections. I will really, truly miss all of those workers.

“I look forward to serving Three Rivers in a different capacity and certainly still being a part of the Three Rivers community,” Bliss said.

Robert Tomlinson can be reached at 279-7488 ext. 23 or robert@threeriversnews.com.

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