After 27 years of dedicated, precise service to the City of Bishop, Assistant Finance Director Cheryl Solesbee will bid the budget goodbye when she retires next month. In the meantime, sheâll be training her successor, Lorraine Ray. Photo by Marilyn Blake Philip
Starting this week, City of Bishop Assistant Finance Director Cheryl Solesbee will be training her replacement until Solesbee retires in January, ending, by all accounts, a 27-year career of outstanding, to-the-penny services and exceptional commitment.
Solesbee started with the city as an account clerk in 1987, eventually serving as accounting secretary and budget manager and since 2012, as assistant finance director.Â Throughout the years, Solesbee said, âthere have been many challenges, but the most consistent one is providing (City) Council and the community with a well-represented financial statement and budget,Â year after year.â The flip side of that challenge, she said, is the huge reward of knowing that she has âserved the city, employees and community with dedication and righteousness.â
Coworkers sing her praises, confirming that Solesbee righteously earned that reward.
City Administrator and Finance Director Keith Caldwell has âalways been impressed with Cherylâs dedication and loyalty to the city and outstanding service to the City Council during the eight years Iâve known her. One of her top priorities is to provide a good, easy-to-decipher budget outline.âÂ Despite the length of her tenure, âCheryl comes to work every day like itâs her first day, ready to work â even now when the countdown (to her last day) is on. With her tremendous work ethic, sheâs a great role model.â Caldwell added that Solesbee was also integral to his training as finance director, helping him âunderstand the budget inside and out. There is never anything you could ask that Cheryl doesnât provide to the city.â
City Clerk Robin Picken said, âIt has been an absolute pleasure working with Cheryl since I started here on Feb. 8.â After former City Clerk Denise Gillespie trained Pickens and retired, Solesbee has always been available for guidance. âI will really missÂ Cheryl when she is gone.Â She comes in with a smile and is ready to help â not just me, but everyone who may walk in the front door ofÂ our city offices. She is a true gem âŠ a stellar employee and definitely keeps Bishopâs finances on track.â
Inyo County District 3 Supervisor Rick Pucci, who worked with Solesbee for more than 10 years during his tenure at City Hall as city administrator, concurred, describing her as an âextremely dedicated, motivatedâ municipal servant. Pucci attributes âthe financial stability of our fine city to the hard work of Cheryl and the cityâs financial staff. I would wish Cheryl and her wonderful family the best that retirement has to offer.â
Gillespie, Solesbeeâs close friend and former coworker, met her âbuddyâ when Gillespie became city clerk in 1999 and the assistant city clerk had just retired. Solesbee deftly performed ACC duties, which included conducting a general municipal election, in addition to her finance responsibilities, Gillespie recalled. âCheryl âŠ handled everything that had a dollar sign attached to it. Her knowledge of municipal finance is impressive.â Gillespie added that she will always respect Solesbeeâs dependable honesty and straightforwardness and cherish the friendship that grew out of their work relationship.
Solesbee said she will miss her daily interaction with âso many coworkers and friends.Â Youâd be surprised how quickly everyone becomes your second family and âhome away from home.ââ Her last day will be filled with tears, âboth of sadness and happiness âŠ I wonât miss the alarm clock at 6 a.m.â
With just 33 more days of 6 a.m. alarms to go,Â Solesbee said she doesnât have immediate retirement plans.Â âI look forward to a solid six months of doing whatever I want when I want.Â Everyone tells me the first thing Iâll want to do is clean closets. I even look forward to that,â Solesbee said with a soft smile. After that, she may tackle âstacked-up projectsâ and take a âspecialâ family vacation. âI may want to continue my career in perhaps a different venue, but nothing definite as of yet.âÂ
While Solesbee is sleeping in, cleaning closets and doing life in her own good time, new Assistant Finance Director Lorraine Ray will be balancing the budget. Ray has âextensive experience in governmental, enterprise and budget accounting,â Solesbee said of the former Bishop Paiute Tribe chief financial officer and California Lutheran University accounting manager. âLorraine will be an asset to the cityÂ and she looks forward to our work environment and the challenges of a small governmental agency.â
In the few brief meetings Caldwell has had with Ray, he said heâs been impressed with her knowledge, skills and abilities. âI look forward to her being a big part of the City of Bishop team.â