By ERIC TICHY
OBSERVER Mayville Bureau
MAYVILLE - Rose Conti knew it was time to call it quits.
She said it was the plan all along - "When I hit 62, it would be time to retire."
As CSEA Unit 6300 president since 2006, Conti officially announced her retirement during a County Legislature meeting last month in Mayville. Her last day will be July 18, ending a 33-year career as a public employee - 29 of those as a county worker.
"CSEA has offered me a lot of opportunities," Conti said to the OBSERVER. "I guess it's not just one thing I will remember. It gives you the opportunity to just serve the people and help get what is right for the people.
"When you work at this level, it's what people expect of you."
Conti has become a fixture at recent legislature meetings, voicing support to keep the County Home financially solvent and out of the private sector. To date, she said it's probably the biggest cause for which she has fought - in terms of sheer numbers, from employees to residents at the Dunkirk skilled nursing facility.
"You hope you don't have to fight," she said. "You hope to come to resolve the issues. Even if you win, there's something you lose having to take it to battle."
"For the County Home," Conti added, "it's the number of people it's impacting in terms of size. Everything you fight for, it's all about how many people it impacts."
During last month's full-body meeting, Conti thanked the legislature for supporting a $1.36 million fund balance appropriation to the County Home to match a federal grant. She said afterward she was confident the local share payment would be made.
Conti also noted contract negotiations between the county and her unit are currently in mediation after talks broke down earlier this year. She then alluded to her constituents, all of whom she said make her job easier.
"Over the years, there's been some good times," she said. "When people work together, it benefits the people. It's humbling to serve the membership. It's a great experience."
Conti will be replaced by David Fagerstrom, current Unit 6300 vice president.
"David has been with the union for years," she said. "It's now just of matter of him stepping into the position full-time. He certainly has the knowledge and the ability to do the job."
As second in command, Fagerstrom has taken over as acting president when Conti is away or on vacation.
In terms of benefits, Conti said she receives no additional perks for being union president; she said will receive a monthly pension check - a number she cannot estimate until she officially retires - and health insurance at her current working rate. She noted most employees pay for their insurance.
"It's no different if I were to retire as an employee," she said. "... People can go online at anytime and see what I am making. When I retire, they will be able to go to the Internet and see what my pension is."
Conti will also receive her unused vacation time.
Asked what she plans to get done in her last month-and-a-half on the job, Conti said, "Well, it's probably going to take me a month-and-a-half to clean out my desk. But really, it will just be my normal routine."
"It's just time to retire," she added. "The was the right time for it. My husband retired a year ago and the plan was for me to retire at age 62. It was the plan all along."
Aside from some light travel plans, Conti said retirement will generally include spending time with her husband, who basically "had a trial-run retirement" when he retired last year.
"He got to go first," she said. "Now it's time for me to go."