On Friday, Jan. 7, Eileen Schansberg went to work for the last time at the Harmony city offices. She had served as the deputy city clerk and ambulance director since going to work for the Fillmore County community in 1997.
“I’m going to miss the people,” Eileen reflected recently. “Serving the public and trying to help them are what I really enjoyed about the job.”
Eileen has actually been “serving the public” for more than the past 25 years. Prior to going to work for the City of Harmony, she and her husband Ralph owned and operated the very popular Townouse Restaurant in Harmony for nearly 18 years.
Eileen (Smith), of Spring Valley, Minn., met Ralph Schansberg, of Caledonia, Minn., while they were both employed at the restaurant at the Rochester International Airport. Soon after they were married, they realized they really wanted to get back to a more rural setting. When they found out the Townouse Restaurant in Harmony was for sale in 1978, they decided to buy it. The young couple worked hard to make the local restaurant a very popular place where folks could get a good home-cooked meal and a great piece of homemade pie.
The Schansbergs sold the Townouse in December 1995 and Eileen went to work for the Harmony Care Center. Wanting to serve her community, Eileen received her EMT certification and joined the Harmony Ambulance Service.
A parttime deputy clerk position for the city opened in 1997. With Eileen’s background with the ambulance service, the city soon combined the deputy clerk and ambulance director positions, which Eileen has held ever since.
What has changed since 1997?
Back in 1997, there was only one computer at Harmony City Hall. The city utility bills were calculated and generated by the computer. But everyone paid their bills manually, either in person or through the mail. That’s all changed over the past quarter century. Eileen figures about 30 percent of the residents have signed up for direct debit payment, with more residents updating all the time.
“The auto pay simplifies things. It makes it easier and for us and for our customers,” she said. “And it takes out much of the human input errors.”
Eileen said there are so many more government rules and regulations now, especially with the ambulance end of it. Keeping track of all the insurance claims, making sure all the ambulance staff was CPR certified and now EMT certified and keeping up with the newest emergency service technology has been a challenge. Again, having the ambulance service totally computerized has improved things considerably.
The number of calls the Harmony Ambulance Service makes now is about 200 per year, which is twice as many as what it was when Eileen started out. The ambulance service covers both the Harmony and Canton fire districts, two senior living complexes, as well as Harmony Place and the Harmony Care Center.
When asked what her future plans include, Eileen said she plans to spend more time with her daughter Leanne of Carlton, Minn., sons Kevin and Alan of the Twin Cities, their families and her six grandchildren (a seventh on the way). She also hopes to spend more time at their lake home near Waterville, Minn., and traveling. For more of Eileen’s story, visit driftlessjournal.com.