ST. PETE BEACH — After serving a year as St. Pete Beach city clerk, Amber LaRowe’s future seems so bright she may have to wear shades.

During the July 13 city commission meeting, officials praised LaRowe’s work ethic, her ability to evoke team comraderie and leadership, efforts to upgrade the department with the latest technology and an above-and-beyond enthusiasm that found her correcting city records that were several years old.

“I have completed my first year as the city clerk. It has been a fun year, with many new ideas, different approaches, and new software to help the city run more smoothly with public records requests and agenda management,” she wrote in her address to the commission.

“I am proud of the work that I and my staff have put into this year and feel that there are still many things to accomplish over the next year as well. I have enjoyed getting to know each staff member and commissioner and I look forward to continue to deepen those relationships and add value to the team,” she added.

Mayor Al Johnson said he considers two items integrally important to the clerk’s job: “One is the technical end of it, a knowledge of how things work and records are kept. Amber has done all of that, plus instituted processes that have improved us and improved the ease at which they do their jobs down there (in the clerk’s office), which I think is wonderful. The other part is having the leadership and creating a team atmosphere down there. Our town clerk is doing all of that.”

He added, “I have literally not had any complaints about anything from the clerk’s office, since Amber arrived, and I want to thank you for that,” he told her.

“I rarely hear anything but complaints, but lately it’s been more praise than anything else,” the mayor added. “And particularly I have never heard complaints from the clerk’s office. I think she is doing a wonderful job.”

Johnson noted LaRowe has gone above and beyond her regular duties as clerk by volunteering to take on projects such as researching city minutes from 2008 to 2010 that were never formally approved by the commission, and bringing them up for approval to complete the record.

Commissioner Ward Friszolowski also praised the initiative LaRowe showed in going back several years to correct meeting minutes. He said told the clerk he was “sort of astounded that you’re able to do that, at the same time going through a pandemic, which is pretty amazing.”

LaRowe taught staff how to use and organize Laserfiche Records Management Software. In addition, she implemented Simplifile for e-filing, which provides quicker turnaround for liens for both the city and residents. She also created an elected officials’ guidebook, public records platform and provided legal staff with information on Municode’s services for an entire code update, along with digitizing city codes and historical records.

“We’re a small town, we’re a small city government, and it’s nice that you are able to wear that hat that you were given and take on additional responsibilities like you have,” Commissioner Melinda Pletcher told LaRowe. “You’re a breath of fresh air and doing a great job; I think everybody enjoys working with you and working for you. You’re continuing to improve yourself. I think you are very conscientious and thoughtful.”

Before the end of the calendar year, LaRowe is projected to receive her Master Municipal Clerk certification from the Florida Association of City Clerks.

Before being selected last year as St. Pete Beach city clerk, LaRowe served eight years as assistant city clerk in Palmetto. Her prior work experience includes serving as a legal assistant in the 12th Judicial Circuit for the State Attorney’s Office.

Along with the unanimous glowing accolades and a contract extension until August 2022, city commissioners awarded her a pay raise from $69,000 to $75,000 annually.