In May 2015, I changed course regarding my occupation and left journalism for the government. The local government, to be exact. It’s not like I joined the FBI and became one of the liaisons who “cannot confirm or deny” anything to any media person ever. I’m not a complete traitor.
Nope, just became an employee of the City-County Planning Commission of Warren County. Because of a web of complicated circumstances beyond my control, I, as the new hire, kind of fell by the wayside and didn’t take on any responsibilities to speak of during my entire first year.
But all that changed at the beginning of our fiscal year, July 1.
Although my job title remained the same, I was given the task of dealing with our office’s involvement in historic preservation. Basically, that means that any time anyone wants to do anything to the exterior of an historic property, they have to come to me first. Our office has the authority to approve or deny some proposed projects in-house. Other projects must go before the five-member Historic Preservation Board, to which I present my findings in our office’s historic guidelines and other literature that coincide with the proposed project. It is then up to the board to decide if the proposed project gels with the guidelines and therefore will appropriately preserve the historic property.
The cool (and scary) thing about my new responsibility is that I have to interpret guidelines from a few sources and decide whether or not it’s okay for someone to do something to a structure that is super old. Because once it’s done, it’s done.
That’s why I already know I like taking things to the board; it’s like an added measure of review. And tonight is my first ever presentation to the board. Or any board, for that matter.
Over the past month, I’ve tried to absorb as much as I could about historic preservation, always keeping in the back of my mind that there are really two parties I’m dealing with: the applicant and the property. I have to be fair to both. And “fair” doesn’t always mean “getting one’s way.”
I was a little unsure if I had learned very much in my studying, but when I explained a process to my mom over the phone when she asked what I was doing at work, she said she could tell I’d learned a lot. That felt good to hear.
I’ve also taken a couple phone calls from people with questions about their historic property recently, and I surprised myself with how my brain almost immediately clicked to what information I needed to locate, and then how quickly I was able to locate it. I still check with my supervisor before giving anyone a definite answer, but I’m happy to say that her responses confirm my guesses, or at least tell me I had most of it right.
I have dedicated most of yesterday and today to preparing for my presentation. I’ve found history on the site the board will look at, taken photographs, clarified items of the proposal with the applicant and made notes of important bits of information to bring to the board’s attention. It’s exciting. I finally feel like I’m in a big girl job, doing big girl things.
Bring on the Pull-Ups, because I’m a big kid now!