Karen Plantier and Darla Champine.

Longtime City Staff Members Retire: Champine and Plantier Recognized for Decades of Service

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Thursday January 25, 2018

Two retiring city staff members were recognized by the South Burlington City Council at the January 16 city council meeting. Honored by city officials, along with the retirees’ family and friends, Darla Champine was recognized for her 38 years of service and Karen Plantier for 29 years of service to the city of South Burlington. Resolutions were read expressing the city’s appreciation, on behalf of its citizens, for their “generous contributions of time, knowledge and experience.”

Champine joined the South Burlington Recreation and Parks Department (SBRP) September 24, 1979. As the department’s first full-time administrative assistant, she managed daily operations and performed clerical, office, and record-keeping functions.

Members of the SBRP call Champine “family” and describe her as the “welcoming and smiling face at the front line of their department.” SBRP’s Holly Rees said, “The lives that she has touched with her patience, kindness and generosity are too numerous to count. It has been so meaningful and touching to see so many in our community come over these last months to bid her a personal goodbye; a testimony to the longstanding and important relationships she built in her time with the city. Bruce O’Neil, former Director of Recreation and 24-year colleague, says Champine is “a true diplomat and a public relations expert.”

Champine said, “Working for the South Burlington Recreation and Parks department was always a fun job and a daily learning process as we would have different scenarios every day.” When asked what the most meaningful part of her work was, she shares, “Meeting the new families in the city.”

Plantier joined the South Burlington Department of Public Works in 1988. Throughout her career as office manager, she supported the coordination of activities between all staff and other departments within the city. According to the resolution, in addition to being the public face of the department’s customer service, “Karen also provided a special role to all her fellow public works employees in assisting them with both their daily professional and personal lives.”

Describing Plantier as indispensable, Public Works Director Justin Rabidoux said, “Karen was an early riser and carried with her a strong work ethic and commitment to her responsibilities to the city. Those great qualities certainly rubbed off on all staff.”

For her part, Plantier will miss working with the staff, which she calls her “second family.” Noting that she had worked longer in the public works department than any other employee, Plantier worked under three different directors: Albert “Sonny” Audette, Bruce Hoar, and now Rabidoux. Although Plantier says she is ready to retire, she still makes her way to the office, now as a volunteer, to help out. As she says, “I don’t want to leave them hanging.” Loathe to boast about any achievement, Plantier has been the proverbial “quiet person in the wings” getting things done.

Deputy City Manager Tom Hubbard said, “With the retirements of both Darla and Karen, the city applauds the dedication and commitment that both these women have made on behalf of the city over a combined 68 years of service to the community. A great deal of knowledge and history will be passed along to those filling the void they have left. I’m fortunate to have worked with them both over these many years, Darla more closely with her position when I was with the Recreation Department for 30-plus years. We’re fortunate and proud to have had them as part of our excellent administrative support staff and municipal employee team.”

Both Champine and Plantier’s resolutions closed with sentiments of well-wishes for their retirement. Hubbard adds, “We are grateful and thank them both for their outstanding work and we wish them all the best with their future endeavors.”