NEW CASTLE – Earlier this year Janet Kalajainen told her staff and other colleagues in Lawrence County that she was planning to retire soon.
As that deadline quickly approaches, it still feels surreal and bittersweet, she said.
Kalajainen, Lawrence County’s current wills registry and deed recorder, is expected to retire on Jan.3 after his last term expires.
“I really like my job. I will miss everyone, ”Kalajainen said.
Kalajainen spent almost 50 years at the registry and registry, first in June 1972.
She eventually rose through the ranks to become Deputy Registrar and Registrar before being elected Registrar and Registrar in 1982, and has since been re-elected for a total of 10 terms. She didn’t expect to spend her entire career in one office, but stuck to it because she enjoyed both the “challenge” of the job, as well as interacting with the public every day.
“It really is a public service office,” Kalajainen said, noting that one of the most rewarding aspects of the job is helping people with probate and inheritance applications during times of mourning.
Modernize the office over the years
When Kalajainen was first elected in 1982, the office still used printed maps and printed books; she was in the office when the first computer system was installed.
Over the years, she and her staff have kept pace with the evolution of technology, from printed books to online books to other electronic documents that can be viewed by the public.
His office is set to launch three new online programs – the cloud search for real estate records, eProbate and eFiling for the register of wills – in the near future.
Kalajainen said when the COVID-19 pandemic first began, the office began making hundreds of virtual approvals on Zoom. These programs will allow the public to have more access to services, and the files will soon be available in 1849 in the county.
Personal “like a family”
Kalajainen said that over the years, she and her staff have grown closer, sharing different life events, both good and bad.
“We are family and friends,” Kalajainen said. “Everyone will be missed. “
Kalajainen said she has full confidence in Tammy Crawford, who will succeed her as registrar and recorder.
Crawford has worked in the Office of the Register and Registrar since 1994, became the Deputy Registrar of Deeds in 2000, and has served as the Chief Assistant to the Registrar of Wills for the past seven years.
Other career milestones
Kalajainen received the Jaycees Distinguished Service Award in 1985.
She was president of the Pennsylvania Recorders of Deeds Association from 1991 to 1992, secretary of the Pennsylvania Registers of Wills & Clerks of Orphans’ Court Association from 1994 to 2004, where she was president from 2007-08 and was appointed president of the Pennsylvania Electronic Registration Commission in 2013 by former Governor Tom Corbett.
In 2018, she and her office launched the annual Lawrence County Art Competition to showcase the beauty of the county through talented artists, while also establishing a gallery in the Lawrence County Government Center.
She started the Lawrence County “Thank a Vet” Veterans Photo ID program to get local businesses to offer discounts to veterans.
Over the past four decades, Kalajainen has raised around $ 200 million for county, state, and local municipalities.
His last message
Kalajainen said she not only had good relations with her office staff and the public, but also with all county department heads, rank officers and other elected officials.
She thinks it’s a good time to retire, saying she wants to spend more time with her family and travel.
“It has been an honor and a privilege to serve the citizens of Lawrence County for almost 50 years, and I sincerely appreciate this opportunity,” said Kalajainen.
Nicholas Vercilla is a reporter for the Beaver County Times and Ellwood City Ledger. He can be contacted at [email protected]