Woman council worker notches up 50 years' service

ORIGINAL: DIanne Crocker enjoyed a cup of hot chocolate, courtesy of waiter Nathan Introna, at Ellen Hotel which now occupies the site of the former Town Hall where she began work 50 years ago. Her memory of events contributes to her success as the council's records officer.
ORIGINAL: DIanne Crocker enjoyed a cup of hot chocolate, courtesy of waiter Nathan Introna, at Ellen Hotel which now occupies the site of the former Town Hall where she began work 50 years ago. Her memory of events contributes to her success as the council's records officer.

In what must be a record achievement, Dianne Crocker has notched up 50 years’ magnificent service with the council.

On Friday, she returned to where she began her career with the Corporation of the City of Port Pirie – at the former Town Hall site now occupied by Ellen Hotel.

While sipping hot chocolate in the restaurant, she looked back on her start in the then offices as a 16-year-old stenographer.

Miss Crocker agreed she had no inkling of her longevity when she nervously entered the wood-pannelled corporation on that fateful day on August 8, 1968.

Her amazing memory of events involving the council has seen her settle comfortably today into the role of records officer with the organisation.

And, if nothing else, she learned to spell the word “accede” accurately as a result of being admonished by a strict superior back in the early days.

“We used to finish our letters to ratepayers with the words, ‘hoping we can accede to your request’, but I accidentally spelt ‘accede’ with one ‘c’,” she said.

“I was made to type the word properly 100 times as a reminder to get it right. I have never ever spelt that word wrongly since and every time it comes up I think of that day.”

In her time at the council, now Port Pirie Regional Council, she has worked with nine mayors and nine chief executive officers.

With her shorthand skills, she used to keep the minutes of corporation meetings in the early days then use her trusty typewriter to transcribe her notes.

In those days, she used to ride her scooter to work while wearing a mini-skirt. It was just after decimal currency was introduced.

Mayor John Rohde, council chief executive officer Peter Ackland, corporate and community director James Holyman and her supervisor Darren Stevens spoke at a special event to mark her career on Wednesday.

Mr Holyman said Miss Crocker’s achievement was amazing considering the Australian average time in one workplace was three years and four months.

She revealed her secret to such a long career.

“In the early days, the council, like the smelter, had a policy that once you got married, you had to leave their employment,” she said.

“I think why I am still here is because I never got married. Employers found they could not continue that policy and it was eventually changed.

“I have seen lots of changes. In the first 25 years, it was pretty stable with the same staff. With amalgamations, the last of which happened in 1997, the staff changed.”

She admits to having done “just about all of the jobs” in the council including being secretary to former Town Clerk Ray Fullgrabe who was in charge when she started.

As well, she has performed library work, payroll, operating ledger machines, tourism duties and technical services’ clerical work.

At the same time she has been busy in the community with the Northern Country Music Association, Relay for Life, the History Group and supporting Solomontown Football Club.

“I didn’t think I would be here 50 years later still working. I am not ready to retire yet,” she said.

Indeed, it sounds like a well-earned cup of hot chocolate!

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