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Belisle wraps up long, enjoyable city career

Karen Belisle is stepping down from her position at West Fargo City Hall effective Dec. 15, after spending almost three decades overseeing utility billing for citizens and businesses in the community.

Belisle said she intends to make the most of her newfound free time simply putting her "feet up for a while," and then devoting more attention to her children and grandchildren, and committing to volunteer work in the community, wherever the need arises.

Originally from Lansford, N.D., she graduated from high school there, before attending Minot State College, earning degrees in Business and Physical Education.

Following college, Belisle taught business and girls phys ed at Underwood, N.D., for three years before relocating to Fargo and soon after West Fargo, where she has lived ever since, just recently moving from her longtime home on Sixth Avenue West to a smaller house in Woodhaven Addition in Fargo.

She has two grown children and four grandchildren: son Lance and his wife, Sarah, who live in Osgood with their children, Lauren, 10, and Jack, 7; and daughter, Tara and her husband, Scott Krenner, who make their home in Plymouth, Minn., with their two children, Nolan, 7, and Marit, 3.

Belisle's first employment in the area was with Fargo National Bank. She went on to work at First National Bank in West Fargo, in addition to Idso Sales on a part-time basis.

During this time, her son, Lance, was born. She eventually decided to be a stay-at-home mom after her second child, Tara, was born.

When Tara turned three, Belisle started her full-time position in water billing at West Fargo City Hall and has remained there since.

She said she learned about the opening through her good friend, Sharon Schacher (current finance director), who was employed there. "Sharon and I were friends. She used to babysit my son, Lance. An extra position opened at City Hall to help with water billing. She told me about it, and I was hired."

Belisle recalls when she first started there were only 3 ½ employees in the city auditor's office, part-time City Assessor Jeff Dahle, Auditor Mike McLeod, Deputy Auditor Sharon Schacher and herself.

She is amazed by the employee growth since, with those numbers now on board on the City Hall side sitting at 13 individuals.

She also marvels at the evolution of the community, noting when she first began her position, she sent out 1,700 bills, now those numbers are close to 8,000 bills distributed each month.

The technique for billing has also changed dramatically, with everything more computerized and automated, contributing to an easier, more streamlined process.

In retrospect, Belisle said her time invested at West Fargo City Hall "has really been an enjoyable experience. I've been here so long and have gotten to know people so well that I automatically have customers who just walk into my office and pay their bill because they know I'm here. I'll miss that contact with the community, and all the people stopping in and the conversation that always goes along with their visits."

What she will miss the most are the fellow staff members she says "have become like family" through the years. "We are kind of like one big happy family. If anything gets too hectic, everyone is always willing to pitch in and help out."

Nonetheless, she plans on making the most of retirement. "I'm just going to stay at home for awhile and put my feet up and relax. I also plan to visit my kids more often and, who knows, I might do a few odds and ends things here and there. I also want to help out with volunteer work."

As their way of saying thank you, fellow employees are honoring Belisle with a special retirement party on Thursday, Dec. 16, in the lower level at the West Fargo VFW, 308 Sheyenne St. The social will begin at 6 p.m., the dinner at 6:30 p.m., with a program to follow.

Tickets are available for the event, featuring a turkey dinner, at a cost of $10 per person, by contacting West Fargo City Hall at 701-433-5300 by Thursday, Dec. 9.

Belisle said she is looking forward to the party, which will be attended by her son and family and her daughter and granddaughter. Grandson Nolan and his dad won't be able to participate because they will be dealing with medical appointments associated with Nolan, who broke his arm in September.

The event is open to the public and everyone is welcome to attend.