Milford city clerk reflects on 45 years with the city

Terry RogersGovernment, Headlines, Milford Headline Story

Mayor Todd Culotta, Terri Hudson and Councilman Jason James

At the end of June, Terri Hudson, Milford City Clerk retired from office, leaving a position she held since 1997. Over the years, Hudson has seen many changes come to the city.

“When I responded to a newspaper ad for a crime analyst assistant in the Sussex Burglary Analysis Unit which was a federal program at Milford Police Department in 1978, I wasn’t quite sure what the job would entail,” Hudson said. “I was interviewed by Duncan Mackey who was a Milford Police Officer, and a civilian named Bruce Lorenz who also worked in the Unit. Surprisingly, I must have somehow impressed them.Their recommendation to hire me had to be approved by then Police Chief Richard Carmean. He obviously must have given them the green light and that was the start of what has been a very long career with the city.”

Hudson began with Milford in December 1978, a “scared and very skinny girl,” she joked. Initially, she worked on the second floor of the Alderman Building which was demolished to build the current Milford Public Library. At that time, the police station was across the street in a building that later became the water department. Hudson moved with other police operations to a newly constructed and “very modern” police building on Northeast Front Street in 1979.

“Since last December, after the construction of a new police building across the street, that building is now referred to as the old police department,” Hudson said. “Once in that building, I became the department’s record secretary. Within a couple of years, the Executive Secretary that had been there for some time decided to retire. Chief Carmean then appointed me to that position.”

Hudson remained in that building for 19 years. When then-City Manager Mike Booker resigned to accept a position in Florida, Chief Carmean filled in as interim City Manager and was offered the position full-time a few months later.

“I was very comfortable in my corner office at the police department and the work I was doing the time, so it took a few weeks to answer Chief’s request to continue working with him and take the city clerk’s position. As a matter of fact, it has his wife’s phone call that was the deciding factor,” Hudson said. “I actually switched positions with Vicky Sessoms, who is still at the police department, and I was appointed to the position by Council in 1997.”

Initially, Hudson was not sure what a city clerk did.

“I had no idea of the heavy workload and number of nights I would be working. I know now why Vicky didn’t hesitate. My first eye opening was when the Attorney General’s office came knocking on my door with a complaint from a local reporter that I had not posted an executive session on a council agenda. Heck, I didn’t know,” Hudson said. “I hardly knew what an executive session was and assumed from that meeting, that the Mayor and Council tell you when one is needed at any point during a meeting. Thus, the beginning of years of training on parliamentarian procedures, FOIA, municipal law, and the thousand or so other topics related to what a city clerk deals with on a regular basis.”

One of the biggest changes Hudson has seen over her years of service is the technology used to complete her duties.

“Believe it or not, I actually started with an electric typewriter. I remember when the police department purchased a Selectric Correcting typewriter. I It had what looked like a ball, almost like a golf ball, with letters on it that would rotate then print the correct letter.  You could change out the sphere to get different fonts. It also had a spool that was used for correction ribbon.  If I remember correctly, you would backspace the carriage, and it would give you the ability to use the correction or cover-up tape. Not perfect, but it was better than the old typewriter erasers that left a mess,” Hudson said. “Then came my first computer. It took up quite a bit of room and if I remember, it had a CRT display.  I approached it with reluctancy, but very quickly learned to love it even though it was very slow. Of course, I didn’t realize that at the time. Another big change has been in telephones.  I actually remember having again, very large telephones at our desks. Some were rotary phones, and I don’t remember the timeline, but recall when the multi-line desk telephones were purchased. The had a line of buttons on the side.”

The biggest challenge in the clerk’s position is the heavy workload required to complete tasks, Hudson stated.

Councilwoman Katrina Wilson and Terri Hudson

“It’s no longer an eight or even ten-hour day. A typical day lasts until at least 9pm, plus it involves many nights of meetings. We have a very active council and there have been many new committees and subcommittees created. I prepare the agenda, the packet and then the follow up work. A great deal of time is also spent making changes to the agenda and packet,” Hudson said. “The other staff attending those meetings have tasks that are done at the end of the night. But, for the city clerk, that is only the beginning of the work for that meeting. As I sit here today, I am still not caught up with minutes.  Council did approve purchasing a new software system that should help and is highly recommended by other clerks.  Unfortunately, I will not have the luxury of using it, since it will take several weeks to be customized specifically for Milford.”

Another change Hudson has noticed is that fewer employees are from Milford, and some are not even from Delaware.

“The employees used to get together for dinner or on weekends, but that has changed as well. I think it’s a combination of busy schedules and family obligations. With a lot of us working long days, the weekends should be spent with family,” Hudson said. “I have worked with some wonderful people over the years and some very supportive elected officials, and lifelong relationships have been made as a result. Still living in Milford will give me the advantage of still being able to see a lot of them, it just won’t be as often.”

The growth of Milford was one factor that Hudson felt she could not ignore. With a growing population, more positions needed to be created at the city which has grown from just one City Hall building to several throughout town. Hudson believes there are now seven or eight city offices.

“The best days were when the City Administration, City Clerk, customer service, planning, building, code enforcement all worked together here at City Hall,” Hudson said. “And now thinking about that, I didn’t realize how much I missed that. We were like one big family.”

At a recent retirement celebration, city and state officials praised Hudson for her devotion to the city.

“She really understands the job, which is really taking the time to implement certifications, and educate other civil servants. She’s a real reference for city clerks all around the state. So Terri’s been the cornerstone in Milford for more than four decades, has greatly contributed to the successful operations in the city of Milford. She has served the residents and city staff with excellence and is a respected and is a team leader. We come together tonight show appreciation to your 45 years of service. We wish you the best of luck and happy retirement,” Mayor Todd Culotta said before reading a proclamation from the city dedicated to Hudson. “We are honored and recognize you as the cornerstone of the city and we’re gonna call it a trophy because she is a true winner and Terri is really the glue that has kept us all together. And Terri, thank you for all that you’ve done. Each and every one of us, all the past mayors and council city administration that have served, you cannot be replaced. We hope you stick around because we need to lean on you for reference. So we love you.”

Councilwoman Katrina Wilson read a proclamation from Governor John Carney and Lt. Governor Bethany Hall Long before praising Hudson on a personal level.

“I just want to say that I am so happy for you. We talked about this day for many, many years. Terri has been there as long as I’ve been on council over 30 years, Terri’s been right there by my side. She taught me many things. And I tell you, her and I have been in a room with a bunch of guys. hashing it out for many years. But we learned to stand our ground and to always demand respect. And I can say we were always respected,” Councilwoman Wilson said. “I’d just like to say on a personal note, Terri has supported my family through loss. She supported my children with all their achievements and as they grew up throughout the years I just can’t say enough about her character and her heart. And I just appreciate you. It’s being the woman of God, the woman of commitment and a woman of just being a sincere person and a confidence because we also have many, many things that are between you and I, me and her and I thank you and I love you forever and ever.”

Hudson receives a hug from Senator Dave Wilson

Senator Dave Wilson read a proclamation from the Delaware State Senate, stating that it was an honor getting to know Hudson over the past 45 years, joking that he didn’t want to mention how young he was when she started with the city. Hudson’s niece, Stacey Greenley-Teat also spoke about Hudson as a person.

“She is my aunt, my dad’s sister and when she started in the City of Milford, I was very young. And she was the most amazing person to me even way way way back. Back then she was drop dead gorgeous, hair down to here. Always tan because she would lay out with her baby oil and all that. And I just thought she was amazing,” Greenley-Teat said. “But not only was she beautiful on the outside, she just was the most beautiful person on the inside. And one thing I’ve learned after all these years is as the years go by you forget what people say along the way. But you never forget how they make you feel. And Aunt Terri, you make all of us feel so special and so loved and so welcome. And despite any trials or tribulations that you’ve been through, you carry on and you still ask about my children, our family and are interested in what everybody else does. So, I just couldn’t go on without saying how much we love you how much we appreciate you. 45 years is unbelievable.”

Councilman Jason James echoed the sentiments of others who spoke at the celebration, stating that his family welcomed their first grandson this year.


“The first gift our grandson received was from Terri,” Councilman James said. “It was totally unexpected, but that’s just who she is and what she does. It is just one of the things we love about her.”

Now that she is retired, Hudson is looking forward to relaxing.

“I am really looking forward to being able to get up in the morning and not worry about being somewhere at a certain time. Plus, no longer having so many deadlines! We are hoping to be able to travel and I’m really looking forward to that.  By freeing my mind more, I’m praying to have more time to focus on my health and staying active,” Hudson said. “The first few years here at city hall, several of us would go downtown for lunch two to three times a week.  There has been no time for that in recent years, but that too, as minor as it seems, makes me excited and a way to support more Milford businesses and try out all the new and unique restaurants we now have!”








Share this Post