Earlier this year, City Clerk Heather McVay was named the 2021 Arkansas Municipal Clerk of the Year and now, she has the hardware that goes along with the recognition.
McVay was surprised with a plaque bearing her name and the award designation during an El Dorado City Council meeting on Thursday.
Just after council members approved the payment of the city's bills, they moved on to unfinished business on their agenda.
"I do believe we have some," Mayor Veronica Smith-Creer said coyly, though the item was blank on the printed agenda.
Council Member Dianne Hammond then announced that the nature of the unfinished business was a presentation for McVay, whose neck and face reddened as she shook her head, seemingly with self-effacement.
Dena Malone -- recorder/treasurer of Clinton and president of the Arkansas City Clerks, Recorders, and Treasurers Association -- strode into the Council Chamber and up to the lectern.
Malone told council members that she was there to present the Arkansas Municipal Clerk of the Year award, explaining that the award recognizes a member of ACCRTA (McVay serves as secretary) "who has made significant contributions to the objectives of the municipal clerks' profession and to the improvement of municipal government in Arkansas and to the clerk's own community."
Qualities that are considered for award-winners include length of service, good relationships with other clerks, interest in education, attendance at national and regional conferences, community volunteerism, support of ACCRTA, which is a subset of the Arkansas Municipal League.
Malone said McVay possessed those qualities and then some, including the criteria for nominees -- a member of ACCRTA for five years; certified municipal clerk and certified Arkansas municipal clerk; provide service to other municipal clerks around the state as the opportunity arises; and exhibit leadership.
Hammond coordinated the nomination process for McVay by completing and submitting the necessary forms, which were co-signed by other city council members, Creer-Smith, City Attorney Henry Kinslow, Director of Public Works Robert Edmonds and police and fire chiefs Kenny Hickman and Chad Mosby, respectively.
McVay previously served as deputy clerk in 35th Judicial District Court.
She has served as El Dorado city clerk since her appointment in 2013 to fill an unexpired term and vacancy that was left following the resignation of her successor, the late Tony McKinnon.
McVay has since run unopposed for the seat twice and is heading into the final year of her second full, four-year term.
She joined ACCRTA immediately upon her appointment to the city clerk's seat in 2013 and has maintained an active role in the organization.
Malone said McVay has attended numerous ACCRTA workshops; International Institute of Municipal Clerks annual and regional meetings; and AML conferences, conventions, workshops and seminars.
McVay has also served on multiple ACCRTA and municipal league committees, Malone continued.
Chief among the duties of city clerk are attending all city council meetings; assisting in the preparation of city council agendas and some proposed ordinances and resolutions; recording meetings of the city council and various city boards, committees and commissions; and transcribing and preparing minutes for the official minute record book.
Though not a state-mandated responsibility for municipal clerks, McVay also maintains current listings of city boards, commissions and committees and accepts applications for and advertises vacancies for the groups.
McVay has spearheaded several projects to make the city clerk's office and City Hall more accessible to the public, including creating and maintaining the city's social media pages and digitizing city records -- ordinances, resolutions and minutes --, which may be accessed by visiting the Go El Dorado website.
In her role as city clerk, McVay also does her part to help promote El Dorado.
In 2015, she organized and directed the University of Arkansas Municipal Clerks Institute District 2 Spring Workshop, which was held in El Dorado for the first time.
The workshop drew nearly 50 participants from dozens of cities across the state and was later named Workshop of the Year by the Arkansas Municipal League.
"Mrs. McVay not only brings professionalism to the El Dorado City Clerk position, but she also brings her bright personality, creating a positive environment for City Hall staff and to the public, with whom she interacts on a daily basis," Hammond wrote in the nomination for the clerk of the year award.
"McVay's attention to detail and meticulous work is paramount in every aspect of her job," Hammond wrote. "She has been a major contributor to the city of El Dorado ... She does everything as a service for the city, its employees and its citizens with no expectation of recognition."
On Thursday, McVay echoed sentiments she shared when she first learned of the award June, saying that the kind words from her fellow city officials, peers and colleagues mean more to her than the recognition itself.
"It means so much to me that my fellow clerks think that of me because I know that there are a lot of other clerks that are much more deserving than I am," the Camden native said. "I also just want to say that I love El Dorado and I'm not quite sure that I deserve this but I'm thankful for it."
And, as in June, McVay was once again met with a standing ovation.