Reliability in Ripley

Two women standing in front of a flag, smiling.

Breanna Mayes and Tracy Luna, Ripley deputy municipal clerk and municipal clerk

Municipal clerk and deputy maintain dependable city services

Story by Leah Barbour • Photos by Michaela Parker

Being a municipal clerk isn’t easy. In Mississippi, these city officers are appointed by local aldermen and the city mayor, who hire and fire these financial recordkeepers at will. When voters elect different leaders, those officials can appoint new municipal clerks, who may know only a little about what the job entails.

Even as officials change, cities need a dependable, organized person who takes care of city records, including meeting minutes, local ordinances, bookkeeping, and bill-paying. In small towns, the municipal clerk may be the only full-time city employee, responsible for parks and recreation, water and sewer services, and recordkeeping for elected officials. It’s clear that choosing a reliable municipal clerk is vital, but how can that person gain all the skills needed to perform the job well?

The Center for Government and Community Development offers the Mississippi Municipal Clerk Certification Program, introduced in 1972 by the Mississippi State University Extension Service as the first of its kind in the nation. By participating in the 3-year program, attendees can earn a certification that demonstrates their knowledge of the law and records management.

Tracy Luna, municipal clerk in Ripley, credits the mayor, city staff, city aldermen, and retired clerk Lisa Mauney with encouraging her to participate in the program. When Mauney retired after 34 years of city service in 2022, she had been the municipal clerk in the Tippah County town for 6 years.

“There’s no way I would have known all the stuff that has to do with running the city,” Luna laughs. “The city clerk retired, and the deputy city clerk, Kathi, who had been here for 26 years,

passed away last year. She’d handled the majority of the city financials and banking, and she was really good at that stuff.

“I’d already started training in the Mississippi Municipal Clerk Certification Program, and, without those classes, there’s no way I would’ve known what it took to run the city. The classes aren’t just helpful; they have eased a lot of worry. I know I’m not the only one with these questions, and I know where to get answers.”

to learn more about
the Mississippi Municipal
Clerk Certification Program.

Breanna Mayes, deputy municipal clerk in Ripley, agrees.

“I’d started the program, and then came property cleanups,” Mayes remembers. “I didn’t know that I’d have to do that, but I had an idea of what steps to take because I’d been doing those classes. It helped me learn what I needed to know, and I’ve been able to meet other clerks and see what’s happening in other cities.”

Luna agrees the networking aspect of the certification program is another reason to participate.

“You realize that you’re not the only one who has these questions, and it makes it easier to ask the questions that you have,” she explains. “It’s a lot of information, but the classes build your confidence.”

Dr. Jason Camp, Extension specialist, organizes and delivers the program. Classes are held in the spring and fall, and Camp delivers them three times, each in a different region to accommodate municipal clerks wherever they’re located in Mississippi.

“The city of Ripley believes in this program, and their clerks go through the program,” Camp says. “The classes feature different topics, and we always update them as things change. We also offer ‘lunch-and-learns’ to make sure everything we’re teaching is timely. Tracy and Breanna are active participants who ask questions and will call if they have questions.”

Luna and Mayes emphasize that they will continue to learn from Extension’s municipal clerk program, even as Luna completed her certification in June and Mayes continues training and will complete her certification in 2026.

“Mississippi State started this training 50 years ago to offer a formal way to train municipal clerks,” Camp says. “It’s become a model around the country, and Extension will continue providing this accredited program.”


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