After 5 Decades, Oak Ridge City Clerk To Retire

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Jackie Bernard has worked for the city of Oak Ridge, Tenn., for 50 years. She's retiring next week as the city clerk. Oak Ridge was built by the federal government out of nothing in the 1940s — part of the Manhattan Project. Thousands of new residents poured in to build the world's first atomic bomb.

RENEE MONTAGNE, Host:

Let's hear, now, from someone at the end of a career. Jackie Bernard has worked for the city of Oak Ridge, Tennessee for five decades. She's retiring next week.

MONTAGNE: I don't know what I've done besides just work hard for 50 years. But there are things that you can do when you work in government, silently and behind the scenes, that can make a difference.

MONTAGNE: We reached Jackie Bernard at her desk where she is city clerk for Oak Ridge. It's a community that was built by the federal government, out of nothing, in the 1940s, part of what was then known - secretly - as the Manhattan Project. Thousands of new residents poured in to build the world's first atomic bomb.

Jackie Bernard began working there later, as Oak Ridge became a place no longer under federal control.

MONTAGNE: My greatest satisfaction is watching this community grow. You know, this was a community that was established in wartime to help us win a war. It's a remarkable American story. Now we're a community of 28,000 folks and I was able to watch it become a great little city.

MONTAGNE: There are, of course, plans in Oak Ridge to celebrate her long service.

MONTAGNE: There is one thing for sure and certain: government is not dull. And the way I am telling people now, when they ask me why are you leaving now, I said because I can't run as fast as I used to. And I also think that it's time for new blood in here; somebody else in with new ideas who can run fast and who will enjoy doing it. Hopefully, as I have.

MONTAGNE: Jackie Bernard speaking to us from her office in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, where she is retiring as city clerk after 50 years on the job.

This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.

STEVE INSKEEP, Host:

And I'm Steve Inskeep.

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