November 10, 2017
It's quite possibly one of the most misunderstood jobs a person can have: code enforcement officer — the person responsible for enforcing ordinances and zoning laws, which means that if your grass is overgrown or your business has trash that continually finds it way outside its receptacle, chances are you're familiar with the term.
For the city of Crestwood, the code enforcement officer also handles rental re-occupancy applications, chicken coops and bees, and demolition permits.
"I've issued more than my share of those the past few years," said Rosann Shannon, the gregarious, amiable Irish woman who has held the title in Crestwood for the past 11 years. "The mall … ," she said, her voice trailing. "I'd been coming to that mall since I was a kid. That's been tough."
But it's not the paperwork that Shannon will remember when she retires Dec. 1. It's the people.
"Thousands of stories," she said, recalling a career that brought her to Crestwood in 2006 and into our neighborhoods. "All my peeps," she said, laughing. "That's what I call them — my peeps."
Because Shannon embraced the notion of public servant, with the emphasis on the second word instead of the first, a lot of the work she did for the city went unnoticed. Instead of instantly writing a summons, she would try to get to the root of a problem and get to know the people behind the doors on which she knocked. She listened first, then asked questions. And if extra help or connection was needed, she made it happen.
She will be missed, but she's leaving only the job, not the community.
"I can never leave Crestwood," she said. "This is my home now."
She said she'll miss the day-to-day problem solving but will continue to volunteer for events such as Christmas in Crestwood and the Route 66 Car Show. And she'll continue, through her Catholic parish, St. Elizabeth, to try and make those connections people still need.
Which means she'll continue to put herself out there, which isn't always easy.
"This is not the job you take to be popular, that's for sure," Shannon said.
But she's tough and resilient after 11 years of navigating changes in political leadership and city management, leaving a few bad moments but mostly good ones.
"The negativity is 1 percent of it," she said. "It's the 99 percent that I'm going to remember."
And people will remember her. Just this week, she was driving through McDonald's and when she got to the window, was told the person in front of her had paid her bill.
"I caught up to him in the lot and shouted out, 'Thanks for this blessing!'" she said.
"He replied, 'No Rosann, you're the blessing in Crestwood.'"
She paused, her voice quivering.
"Crestwood will always be my family – and they will always be my peeps."