Sally Hoy

Current Braham City Administrator Angela Grafstrom with retired City Administrator Sally Hoy. Photo by Noelle Olson

Sally Hoy has worked for the city of Braham for 31 years and has decided to retire. Her last official day is Oct. 31.

“There weren’t many days I didn’t look forward to coming to work,” Hoy said. “It’s been a great place to work.”

Hoy grew up in Iowa and attended North Iowa Area Community College where she studied computers and accounting. She eventually ended up working in Braham.

“I started as a bookkeeper in August 1988 when City Hall was located in the current Genesis building. At that time, there were only a few hand-written ledgers for the city’s finances. We hired a new city auditor and I worked with him to computerize all of the city’s financial records,” Hoy said.

She became the assistant city administrator, and in 1996 she accepted the job as city administrator.

“During my 31 years, I saw Braham grow from a population of 1,000 to 1,800,” Hoy said. “With it came two wastewater treatment plant upgrades, a new well and water treatment plant, a new water tower, a radio-read metering system, a new liquor store and expansion, a new city hall, multiple street improvements, several housing developments and the development of an industrial park.”

Hoy said the high point of her career has been the people she worked for as well as the people she has worked with.

“I have been blessed with great mayors, councils and team of employees,” Hoy said.

The low point of her career Hoy said was when the economy bottomed out in 2008.

“The city lost almost $300,000 in state aid cuts and unallotments those first few years. This basically crippled the city. Braham residents were losing their jobs and homes hand-over-fist, so we couldn’t increase the levy or water-sewer rates on them,” Hoy said. “City projects came to a crashing halt, roads deteriorated, budgets were cut to bare bones, salaries were frozen, including all of us employees taking a 5% pay cut across the board to hang on to everyone’s job. At one point we had 7% of the houses vacant from foreclosures. That doesn’t sound like a lot, until you realize that was 40 homes in our small city. It took Braham a good five years to recover from that downturn.”

During the economic hard times, Hoy underwent a bilateral mastectomy for breast cancer in July 2010.

“This wasn’t my first encounter with cancer. I’d lost the sight in my left eye to cancer when I was 2 years old,” Hoy said. “Ken Ceaglske was mayor in 2010 and I remember telling him that I wasn’t ready for people to know, and I just wanted to have surgery and get on with my job. He and the council were all incredibly supportive. Ken told me that one day I would be ready to talk about it and maybe able to help someone else that got a cancer diagnosis. He was right, because a year later I was coordinating the Journey Care Ministry at my church and taking guitar lessons from Marie Grundberg on my lunch breaks to be part of an outreach music ministry team.”

Hoy shifted into a consultant role to help newly hired Braham City Administrator Angela Grafstrom on Sept 3.

“Sally sent me an email saying that I’d be coming into the best job in the world,” Grafstrom said. “She has made the transition very easy and has been really helpful. She’s shown me what’s been going on in the city.”

Grafstrom grew up in Warroad. She went to college to get her undergraduate degree from Black Hills State in South Dakota and went to Kansas State where she received her master’s degree in English with an emphasis in cultural studies.

Grafstrom moved back to Warroad and owned a bookstore (Inspiration Hollow) for approximately 11 years while raising her daughter Isabella.

“When things started to slow down with people using iPad and Kindles to read books, I went to work at Digi-Key where I worked in customer service,” Grafstrom said.

Grafstrom eventually closed the bookstore and went to work for the city of Warroad as an administrative assistant. She also volunteered on the planning commissions for the cities of Warroad and Badger.

“They were very active planning commissions,” Grafstrom said. “We did the comprehensive plan in Badger. We did a lot of the leg work on the zoning stuff and that is what started my interest in city government in the first place.”

Prior to coming to Braham, Grafstrom was the city administrator for the city of Hallock and she said she is looking forward to working for the city of Braham.

“I want to see the city grow into the future,” Grafstrom said. “I’d like to see some of the empty buildings downtown fill up as well.”

Hoy said the city is in good hands with Grafstrom. Hoy is looking forward to retirement to spend more time with her husband Roger, their five children, grandchildren and her great-granddaughter.

“I’m not a traveler. I’m ready for my pace in life to slow down. I’m involved with my church, and I want to spend more time with my family,” Hoy said. “I’ve passed the torch to Angie, and I think she is going to be a beautiful fit.”

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