"When I gave my little farewell speech, I said, 'I turn this gavel over with a certain amount of regret, because I really have enjoyed the position," said Judy Buettner, the now-exited, three-and-a-half-year president of the Library Friends of Payson. Buettner has resigned the position to run for a seat on the town council.
"But I'm also leaving with a sense of satisfaction, I said, because my goal was to get a new library in Payson and now, with the help of the town, we've got it. It was a roller-coaster ride, but it was exciting."
With that, Buettner's seat on that euphemistic amusement park ride was taken over by Mary Nolan, a two-year member of both the Library Friends and the Rim Area readers, as well as a successor Buettner described as "very dedicated and detailed, with some really good ideas."
Chief among those ideas, Nolan said in a recent interview, is that even though the new library is nearing completion, the Library Friends' new leader is in no position to sit back and rest on anyone else's laurels.
"It would appear as though it's going to be really easy because the hard work of shepherding the new library project is all but done," Nolan said. "The building will be finished in the next few months and they'll be moving in. And the Library Friends has already purchased whatever new shelving and furniture that was needed, plus lots and lots of new books which are currently in storage over at the Womans Club.
"But the fact is," she said, "it's not going to be an easy ride, because part of the new library will include a bookstore, which will be run by the Library Friends as a normal retail operation. In addition to books, there will be merchandise offered for sale, such as T-shirts, hats and cups with the Library Friends logo all to raise money to buy books for the library.
"That is going to be a huge project, because we're not only going to have to staff this thing, but manage it with volunteers, too. It's going to have to be very well coordinated."
At the same time, Nolan said, "there is much to be done to ensure a smooth transition into the new library. We'll be busy providing support to (library director) Terry Morris and her staff over the next few months as they prepare for the move.
"We also hope to expand our membership and broaden our volunteer base as we work to bring new services and programs into the new library and to build on the partnerships that Judy Buettner has formed with many community groups in Payson. Those partnerships strengthen all of us and enhance the contribution our organizations can make to the community in Payson."
And once all that is done?
"Who knows?" Nolan wonders with a laugh. "There's always plenty to do, believe me. It seems like you no sooner get something done than you have to start thinking about what your next move is going to be."
A native of Chicago, Nolan relocated to Phoenix two decades ago to work for the Samaritan Health System. She later became the director of social work at Good Samaritan Hospital, and then the clinical director for the behavioral health system shared by Thunderbird, Desert Samaritan and Good Samaritan Hospitals.
"I was able to take early retirement, thank God," Nolan said. "I had been coming up to Payson ever since I moved to the Valley ... and even bought a summer home here. When the opportunity came to retire, I sold the house in Phoenix and moved to Payson."
That was two years ago within the same time frame that she joined the organization she now leads.
"Judy approached me very early on about the position last February, I think," Nolan said. "I'm sure I wasn't the first person to be approached, because there are a lot of competent, capable men and women in that organization."
The difference between Nolan and those others?
"I was the first one who said yes," she says, laughing.