Fessler to retire after nearly four decades with treasurer’s office

Longtime Uinta County Deputy Treasurer Margaret Fessler sits at her desk Thursday morning for one of the last times. After 37 years working for the county, Fessler is retiring. An open house is scheduled for Tuesday to celebrate her decades of service. (HERALD PHOTO/Kayne Pyatt)

EVANSTON — After 37 years of service with the Uinta County Treasurer’s Office, Margaret Heward Fessler is retiring. Having started working part-time at the county as a motor vehicle clerk in January of 1982, she went full-time in 1984. 

Pat Swauger was the treasurer at the time and Terry Brimhall was deputy treasurer. In 1991, when Swauger left and Brimhall became treasurer, she appointed Fessler as her deputy. 

“Terry and I have been a team for a long time,” Fessler said.

Fessler supervises four to five clerks and some of her duties have included posting all county revenues; payments sent to entities in Uinta County every month — school districts, department of education, the city, towns, special districts, and others; keeping up on Wyoming statute changes and, occasionally, still working the front counter. 

“One thing most people don’t know is that 70 percent of the monies from vehicle and property taxes go to education,” Fessler said.

When she first started in the treasurer’s office it was in the old courthouse building and the big trees and the low wall surrounding the area were still there. 

“We used to walk on that wall when we were kids,” Fessler said. “When we were in that original building and all license plates expired on Dec. 31, with a two-month grace period to February, we had long lines of people waiting to get plates. The lines would go up and down the hall and out the door and down the sidewalk. It was awful. In 1984 we moved into the new building and it is better.”

Fessler said the state changed the grace period to March but people still waited until the last minute. The state then decided to stagger the plate expiration due dates, based on the month of purchase. Fessler said they still have long lines at the end of every month.

The plate design was originally changed every year. In 1975 it was changed to three years, then every five years, and now since 1993 the design is changed every eight years.

Fessler said what she likes best about her job are her coworkers and the customers she gets to know. She said the worst thing about her job is irate and angry customers, but she added that most people are pleasant.

Fessler is a fifth-generation Evanstonian, born and raised. She said she has never lived anywhere else. Her parents were Bill and Ruth Heward, who had a ranch on the lower Bear River. When Woodruff Narrows Reservoir was built in 1962, Heward’s ranch was taken as eminent domain. They stayed on the ranch until 1967, but when the water level grew and would flood their basement, Heward decided to move the ranch house into town. They had to build a special road around the dugway by the Sims ranch and cross the river by the Pierce ranch as the bridge on Highway 89 was too narrow. The Heward house now sits on Red Mountain and is owned by Fessler’s nephew.

Fessler said she has lots of relatives who live in Evanston, including all five of her siblings, two children and five grandchildren. Her plans for retirement are to “have a new adventure every day” and to hang out with her grandchildren.

“I would love to go to New York and see the Statue of Liberty. It is definitely on my bucket list,” Fessler said.

A retirement party to honor Fessler will be at the Uinta County Treasurer’s Office from 3-5 p.m. on Tuesday, July 23. It is open to anyone wanting to offer her best wishes and thank her for her 37 years of service.

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