From radio ‘star’ to retirement

City Clerk Maggie Nyhan is calling an end to a career at Covington City Hall that has lasted over two decades.

City Clerk Nyhan – aka ‘Maggie’ – retiring after 20½ years 

COVINGTON, Ky. – Covington City Clerk Maggie Nyhan is ending her 20½-year career at City Hall with an array of memories, including this: For a time, she was a radio “star” in Scotland.
The year was 2004, and then-Mayor Butch Callery decided to call attention to potholes in the city by letting residents “dedicate” a pothole to their significant others on Valentine’s Day.
The quirky story was distributed on national news wires, and among the many calls that came into Covington from far away – in this case from across the ocean – was one from Scottish radio personality Colin McCardle. He was looking for someone to interview for his West FM breakfast show in the UK, and Nyhan – then the administrative assistant to the mayor and Board of Commissioners – obliged.
Something about Nyhan’s personality, wit, or voice must have provided the right touch for the show, because “Colin from Scotland” – as she knew him -- continued to call periodically in the weeks and months that followed.
“We’d chat about whatever – bourbon, New York (I was from there and he’d visited the city), the weather – and he’d put me on his program,” Nyhan said. “It went on for a while, probably over a year.”
Nyhan will leave City Hall on April 30 – her last day before retirement – as one of the longest serving-employees at City Hall with a keen awareness of the history of the institution. She came to the City in September 2000 and became city clerk in October 2010.
“By my count, I have seen 21 different City Commissioners, six mayors, and six city managers,” she said. “Not to mention, many changes in department heads. Too bad I didn’t keep a journal of all the goings-on at City Hall!”
Among those “goings-on”:
  • Staffing the entrance at Latonia Elementary’s gym back in 2003 and counting people arriving for yet another debate on the Fairness Ordinance to make sure fire safety occupancy codes weren’t violated. “You had people on both sides, but there was so much support in the community (for adopting it),” she remembers. “I was very proud of all of them (on the Commission) because they did the right thing.”
  • The heated arguments at Commission meetings over whether to loosen restrictions on Sunday liquor sales, circa 2006.
  • While in the Mayor’s office, taking endless phone calls from residents, businesses, visitors, and the media. “I was the full-time face for five part-time people, and that office was busy,” she said.
  • Searching for old documents among rows upon rows of file cabinets in the basement of 20 West Pike St., the latest temporary home for city government in Covington. 
Working with City grant writer Meganne Robinson, Nyhan kicked off an effort to digitize many of those records in February 2020. That initiative, which is still going on, will make electronic versions of some 1.4 million pages, including property records related to code enforcement, zoning, historic preservation, permits, and Urban Design and Review Board and Board of Adjustment decisions.
“It’s just going to make those records so much easier to find and access,” Nyhan said.
But that’s just a small part of the records that the City Clerk’s Office oversees.
Among many other day-to-day job duties, Nyhan creates and manages the agenda for Board of Commissioners meetings, staffs those meetings and takes minutes, accumulates and distributes background material on agenda items to the Commission, publishes legal notices, and is the official “recipient” for bids and proposals.
City Manager David Johnston said Nyhan’s sometimes-gruff personality helps in those job functions.
“One of the roles that Maggie plays within City Hall is that of a ‘mother,’ ” Johnston said. “Every week she’s essentially herding cats as she makes department heads, managers, and even me make the deadlines for the meeting agendas. She shows the patience of Job but can easily give a look that can pierce skin when she is disappointed.”
Nyhan is also known by many outside City Hall.
Pat Frew, long-time executive director of the Covington Business Council, first met Nyhan when she worked in then-Mayor Callery’s office.
“From my first meetings with the Mayor when I had the opportunity to interact with Maggie, I was struck by her helpful nature,” Frew said. “Her attitude is even keel, friendly and accommodating, which I imagine comes in handy working in City government where you have a number of bosses both in terms of appointed and elected city officials. She never takes herself too seriously. I always enjoy talking to her. And most of all, she loves the City and wants what is best for the community. I will miss her a lot.”
As for what’s next, Nyhan said she looks forward to traveling and spending time with her family, namely her daughter, Sarah, and Sarah’s husband, Jason, and their two kids, 8-year-old Jaxson and Jacob, who’s almost 12.
“I’ve done my job and done it well for 20 years and six months,” Nyhan said, “and it’s just time.”
The City of Covington has been accepting applications for Nyhan’s replacement for weeks. Applications will close March 31. The job posting is HERE.
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