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City administrator enjoys new role in La Vernia

City administrator enjoys new role in La Vernia
NANNETTE KILBEY-SMITH La Vernia City Administrator Yvonne Griffin enjoys her role and the challenges it brings.

“There’s really not much to tell; what you see is what you get.”

La Vernia City Administrator Yvonne Griffin is modest, but her achievements belie her humble attitude.

Griffin joined the city of La Vernia in August, overseeing city services and administration.

A fiercely patriotic U.S. Air Force veteran who grew up in an Air Force family, she started public service as a clerk for the city of Cibolo, handling utility and court payments. Griffin progressed in her knowledge and skills, moving on to the city of Balcones Heights, where she ultimately served as the director of administrative services, before joining the city of La Vernia.

“I’m always striving to improve, make things easier, better, or more cost-effective,” Griffin said. “I just applied for positions as they became available.”

Her constant efforts to grow and improve include herself. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in administration from Wayland Baptist University, graduated with a certificate in public management from Texas State University in San Marcos.

The married mother of two grown daughters and grandmother of one with another grandchild on the way enjoys the challenge of her new role here.

“La Vernia is almost like a blank slate,” she said. “There’s so much potential out here!”

She prefers small towns to big cities; she and her husband, Terry, live in Converse. Griffin feels La Vernia is on the brink of substantial growth and new things.

“In Cibolo, the growth came fast and hard,” Griffin said. “It’s hard to be prepared for that. I’m trying to help La Vernia prepare and manage the growth.”

City Secretary/Treasurer Angela Cantu has welcomed Griffin. Cantu joined La Vernia without any previous city government experience, and worked to keep up with the many needs and services at City Hall.

“It’s been very helpful, to have her here,” Cantu said. “She’s taught me a lot!”

Griffin appreciates Cantu’s support.

“I can’t do my job without her!” she said.

She plans to meet with each city department, as well as the committees and city council members, “to get on the same page, make plans,” she said.

“The people here are great!” she enthused. “Everything’s so family-oriented, which I love.”

Part of her aim is to work toward transparency and make processes smooth, she said. She helped Balcones Heights earn an award for transparency from the state comptroller’s office and another in financial reporting from the Government Finance Officers Association.

Griffin also hopes to improve the city website, to keep information current.

In her spare time, the city administrator enjoys arts and crafts ...making hair bows, jewelry, and homecoming mums and spending time with her granddaughter.

Always on the go and busy with something, Griffin confesses she’s got to be connected wherever she is.

“I can’t live without my iPad!” she confessed. “It goes everywhere with me!”

The best advice she ever received, she said, came from a former boss and mentor, the late Chuck Balcar, a former city administrator in Cibolo. “Get your degree!” he told her.

She did, and it’s paid off as she’s progressed in her career.

In her new role, Griffin has already connected with the city managers in Stockdale and Floresville, and hopes they can work together, share ideas, and learn from each other.

Meanwhile, she’s still getting her feet wet in La Vernia and assessing the city’s needs.

“Our next big project is to kick off our capital improvement plan,” Griffin said. “We want to make sure we have responsible growth.”

City Administrator Yvonne Griffin invites La Vernia residents to help with a toy drive to aid the Children’s Alliance of South Texas Child Advocacy Center, based in Floresville.

The center serves young victims of abuse, and gives each child served a stuffed toy.

New or gently used stuffed toys and books can be donated during the city of La Vernia’s fall clean-up, set for Thursday through Sunday, Oct. 16-19. Donations also may be taken to City Hall on Chihuahua Street during normal business hours.

For more about the advocacy center, call 830-393-6290.

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