SIDNEY — One might think retirement means time to slow down and sit back and relax. Not for Janet Born, who just ended her last term serving as an At-large Sidney City Council member.
Born served on City Council for the past seven and a half years after being appointed on May 14, 2012, upon the resignation of Jeff Hewitt, and then was re-elected November 2015. But as this past Election Day approached, she felt it was time to retire and did not seek re-election in November. Her term ended on Nov. 30, 2019.
“It was very enlightening and it taught me a lot,” Born said of her time on City Council. “It was wonderful. I just wish more people in Sidney would take an interest in our community and run for some of those offices. It’s an eye-opener because you learn things your were not aware of.”
Although she is retiring from public office, she plans to continue with her role as a “professional volunteer,” she said with a chuckle. She intends to continue her work as a Wilson Health Auxiliary member, volunteering at the Holy Angels Catholic Church and the Senior Center of Sidney-Shelby County, where she is also a member of the Senor Center Singers. Born is also a member of three Bridge card groups. On top of that, she has her two adult sons still at home, who have developmental disabilities.
“My husband passed away two years ago, and that was the main reason I thought this is the time to stop,” Born said. Her husband Bob used to be home with their “boys,” as she refers to them, when she attended Monday evening council meetings.
The Sidney native was unanimously appointed to City Council after applying for the council member position she saw in the newspaper.
“I thought it was a patriotic thing, and I was at a point in my life where I didn’t have to worry about my kids and things at home, and I thought, well, I’ll see what happens,” Born said of why she interviewed for the job. “I have two mentally handicapped boys and my daughter was married, so they were all taken care of — because when my husband was alive he would stay home with them. He was retired by that time.”
When she joined council she was surprised and delighted every member thought she was the right person for the job.
“They said I was unanimously selected. And I was tickled to pieces, because I only knew two or three people on council at that time. And I thought, ‘Wasn’t that wonderful they all thought I was good enough to serve,’” Born said with a laugh.
Prior to joining council, Born was a homemaker. Previously, she also worked as a lab technician at Wilson for a few years until not long after her daughter was born, and then came her boys. She also was the president of the Senior Center for a total of 10 years.
“The thing that shocked me the most when I got (appointed) was that you get paid for (being on council). I thought it would just be a volunteer, patriotic thing,” Born said. “And it is a misconception of the public that council sets the pay. There is a separate committee or commission that meets and decides whether they should get a raise or not, and this year, they decided they will get a raise, and I think they will be making $6,000 a year.”
Of the things she is most proud of helping accomplish while on City Council was finding another water source for the city of Sidney and also the expansion of the Sidney Airport.
“The thing we did the most was find another water source for this town because it was needed so badly,” she noted. “And it was fun too to help at the airport. We extended one of the runways at the airport. I heard that when they have the Country Concert that a lot of those stars come to our airport and come in on there.”
In terms of disappointments, she points to the failure of the fire levy to be passed by Sidney voters this year.
“When that failed, that was a real surprise, because it’s not just for the north end, it’s the whole town it will benefit. And people don’t know that only 20 percent of the money is for the actual building. The rest is for the equipment and the staff people,” Born explained.
Her hope for the next Sidney City Council is to find a way to get the fire levy passed.
Born emphasized her pleasure of serving and the people she served with.
“All of the people on City Council and and senior directors are so nice. And sometimes we would get a silly streak and just laugh. They are so friendly, and the mayor and the city manager too. It’s almost like a small family. They are just the best. They are good people. And they are smart. It’s not like we have a bunch of do-nothings (on council),” she said.
During her last council meeting, Mayor Mike Barhorst presented her with a plaque and an official copy of a resolution commemorating her years of dedicated service to the citizens of the city of Sidney. All in attendance gave her a standing ovation. In response, she said her time on council had been both educational and exciting. She then commended council and city staff members for their dedication, integrity and honesty. Council member Steve Wagner thanked her for her cheerfulness during council meetings.
“From the time she was appointed to fill the vacancy in 2012, she hit the ground running. She looked at everything that came before council with wisdom that can only come from age and experience. Her broad background of community involvement made her an integral part of council’s team. Janet’s perspective and her positive outlook will be missed by every member of council.” Barhorst told the Sidney Daily News.
Even though her time on council has ended, Born has no plans to slow down. She intends to try and attend a council meeting at least every other a month to keep up with what is happening with the city — and hopes to bring a friend along. And between all of her volunteering obligations, she also enjoys taking day trips out of town with her sons.
“I don’t let my boys sit and do nothing; we go all over,” she said. “And I think socializing is good for your mental health. I really do.“
Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.