Talon News - Good Local News

RETIREE CONTINUES TO VOLUNTEER FOR CITY

 

Dorothy Nobis

Donica Sharpe and Bloomfield Mayor Scott Eckstein get silly at a Fourth of July Party in the Park

Donica Sharpe has been involved in geographic information systems (GIS) since 1984. GIS is a system designed to capture, store, manipulate, analyze, manage, and present spatial or geographic data.

For more than 33 years, Sharpe has helped the New Mexico Department of Finance and Administration, the Southern Ute Tribe, San Juan County and the City of Bloomfield create and refine GIS systems.

As one of the few women in the field in the '80s, Sharpe has been described as a pioneer of the industry, she said with a smile. "We call it 'smart mapping,'" Sharpe said of GIS. "It links data to a geographic location. We were doing then what Google does now, helping people find businesses, restaurants, government buildings."

"There weren't many people doing GIS back then," Sharpe added," and with a GPS unit that was the size of a suitcase. Now you can get it on a watch or a phone."

The years she spent doing mapping, analyzing, managing and capturing that data was enjoyable and Sharpe loved it. These days, however, the mapping she does and the locations she seeks have more to do with family, fun and travel.

Sharpe retired from the City of Bloomfield the end of October 2016. Her mapping includes destination points like Glacier National Monument, which she enjoyed with her mother, Barbara Olson, Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon with her grandsons, and Fruita, Colo., where her oldest son, Jamie Sharpe, lives with his family.

Sharpe's husband, Ron Baird, is also retired, but his interests are somewhat different than his wife's. "Ron loves to take care of the farm and the cattle," she said. "He's not much interested in traveling, while I've always got 'go' in my britches!"

Retired life is less hectic, more relaxing and, Sharpe admitted, lots more fun.

"I love having the time to spend with my sons (Jamie, who lives in Fruita, and Mikell and Jeremy, both of whom live in Bloomfield), and my grandchildren and I love having my morning coffee on the patio without having to rush to work," she said.

While she no longer has to "rush to work," Sharpe continues to help the City of Bloomfield – this time around as a volunteer. "The city needs help (with GIS and planning and zoning) and, with the downturn in the economy, city employees are having to do more," Sharpe explained. "It's also hard for the citizens of Bloomfield, who need assistance with their planning and zoning and GIS needs."

Sharpe is frequently called upon by city staff for her expertise, experience and knowledge. "I'm always willing to help – when I'm in town," she said with a laugh.

Returning to help when needed is fun for Sharpe, however. "I miss the people I worked with and the camaraderie we enjoyed. I miss working on making Bloomfield a better place to live," she said. "And I miss the involvement with the citizens – that's the hardest part."

Sharpe's positive attitude, her commitment to serving, and the laugh and smile she offers constantly, have made her a much missed colleague, Bloomfield's Mayor Scott Eckstein said.

"Donica has always had a genuine desire to serve the City of Bloomfield, which she obviously loves very much," Eckstein said. "She has never been shy about bragging about Bloomfield to anyone who will listen."

Sharpe doesn't just brag about Bloomfield, however. "Donica backs up her bragging with action," said the mayor. She's always worked extremely hard to help Bloomfield grow through economic development and she's always gone above and beyond what is expected of her."

"Donica is always cheerful, smiling, friendly and ready to help wherever she can," Eckstein added. "She's always been an asset to the City of Bloomfield and we're fortunate to have her as a volunteer."

In addition to traveling and enjoying family, Sharpe has a project she's working on that is keeping her busy.

"I'm creating a 'She Shed'," she said with a grin. Pinterest is an increasingly popular web site that provides home ideas, recipes and style inspiration, according to the site. A She Shed is the female equivalent of a Man Cave and Pinterest is Sharpe's go-to place for ideas for her shed.

Sharpe's She Shed is small, she said, but large enough to allow her to enjoy her craft work – and, possibly in the future, "I might start making wine."

Growing grapes and making wine, along with enjoying her She Shed, are among the many things Sharpe has planned for the months and years to come. She has one other aspiration, however.

"I'm enjoying my time off, but I am looking at running for public office in the future."

Public service might well be in Sharpe's future, but for now, it is Pinterest, family, fun, and coffee/wine on the patio that keep this busy lady happy.

 

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