City & Government

New city recorder adds to Creswell’s charm

CRESWELL — You may have noticed there is a friendly new face in City Hall, Grace McNeil, serving as the new City recorder for Creswell. 

“I’m a pretty quiet person … That’s kind of the draw to cities with smaller populations. It’s not as overwhelming; it’s more comforting,” McNeil said. 

McNeil has stepped in to replace longtime city recorder Roberta Tharp, who retired in September. 

For nine years prior, McNeil served as the city recorder for the City of Drain, starting as the utility billing clerk and moving up the ranks.

In 2017, McNeil relocated to Cottage Grove for her son, Landon, to attend Cottage Grove High School and play basketball while still working for the City of Drain. 

“You do what is best for your kid,” McNeil said. 

Feeling like she needed more of a challenge professionally, McNeil applied at the City of Creswell upon Tharp’s announcement to retire after 22 years. 

After training and with the learning curve subsided, McNeil feels it’s been an easy transition.

“It’s felt kind of like riding a bicycle,” which McNeil happens to do frequently.

As an avid nature girl, McNeil enjoys biking and hiking, and skiing in the winter time. In the warmer months, she enjoys kayaking and working in her yard. 

Accompanying her on her many adventures is her golden retriever, Koda, who Landon named after the bear in the Disney movie “Brother Bear.”

A couple of years ago, McNeil rode the Hiawatha Mountain Bike Trail which starts at Lookout Pass in Wallace, Idaho and finishes near the east Idaho and west Montana border. 

“It was one of the things that was on my bucket list,” McNeil said. In 1998, the former railroad line was converted into a 15-mile downhill biking and walking trail,  featuring open tunnels, sky-high tressels, and the Taft Tunnel, which burrows through St. Paul Pass for 1.66 miles under the Bitterroot Mountains. 

McNeil is the youngest daughter of U.S. Army veteran Lewis McNeil and Toshiko Narita, who is from Japan. The two met while Lewis was serving overseas in Japan. 

During Lewis and Narita’s time in Japan, Germany, and the U.S., they had seven children together, McNeil being the youngest.

Narita was a homemaker, spending time inside the house taking care of her children. However, Narita’s epilepsy often left McNeil and her siblings to take care of her, too.

“I was responsible from a very young age,” said McNeil, who looked up to many of her older sisters as mother figures, too. 

McNeil has three children: Mason, Rachel, and Landon, who have given her three grandchildren with one on the way.

“I’m looking forward to being a grandma again,” she said. 

With her kids fully grown, the youngest at 19, McNeil is enjoying the slow pace of life.

“I’ve been busy raising kids and all of my kids are athletes. I have ‘bleacher butt’ from being in the gym and supporting my kids and their passions,” McNeil said. “Life is really quiet now … I spend a lot more time at home which is totally fine.”

As the new city recorder, this quality complements her role well. McNeil takes pride in her willingness to try new things, as well as organization, meeting deadlines, and completing tasks. 

“I love it. I’ve found my spot,” she said.



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