City employees were treated to an appreciation luncheon Friday in Lovejoy. (Staff Photo: Johnny Jackson)
LOVEJOY— Marie Burnham happily sat down to a flavorful lunch with her co-workers.
“This is very nice,” she said. “We’ve never done this before.”
Burnham is Lovejoy’s city clerk. She has been with the city since she graduated Lovejoy High School a decade ago.
She and other municipal employees were treated to an appreciation lunch Friday by the mayor and city council. Those employees included city hall, public works, police department and community center staff, as well as some contract employees.
Spokeswoman Kaycia Rhone said the mayor and council wanted to thank the staff following the city’s successful summer block party series and the creation of its community garden and its quarterly jobs fair among other projects in the works.
The employees were treated to various Latin dishes including dips and salsas provided by Tony Slater and his catering business, GOT2-BQUE Chicago Style.
Slater has provided music for the summer block party series from his Lovejoy-based company JT Entertainment. He will also provide music for Fall Fest Sept. 14 at the Lovejoy Community Center and Mayor’s Park, 11622 Hastings Bridge Road.
Mayor Bobby Cartwright said he and the council have been putting extra effort in showing their appreciation for city workers hoping to retain them as career employees.
“Skilled people are hard to keep,” said Cartwright.
One way to retain employees, he said, is to offer a competitive benefits package.
The council is pursuing additional employee benefits. It put out a “request for proposals” for supplemental health insurance earlier this month. Members plan to revisit the issue next month.
Cartwright said he is unsure whether the city qualifies for most supplemental insurances. For example, the city may have too small a workforce at 27 employees, but officials are studying the possibility.