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Flowery Branch city clerk found job via a winding path
Melissa McCain is the Flowery Branch city clerk.

Meet your government

Every Monday, The Times takes a look at someone who keeps local government running smoothly.

FLOWERY BRANCH — When Melissa McCain’s dream job in law enforcement turned out to be not so family friendly, she turned in another direction.

Later, through unfortunate circumstances that brought her south, she found satisfying work that allows her to be close to home.

"And also, for being such a small community and as fast as it’s growing, even with the economy so slow, this is the place to be," said McCain, Flowery Branch city clerk.

McCain, 40, oversees handling much of the city’s basic tasks, such as utility bills and alcohol licenses. She also records the minutes at City Council’s twice-monthly meetings.

Although enjoying her work, she has taken a much different direction in life.

"Ever since my sophomore year in high school, I wanted to be a police officer," said McCain, who grew up in Crystal Lake, Ill., about 45 miles north of Chicago.

After college, she landed the job she coveted, as a county conservation officer.

"I loved it. I would go back in a heartbeat if I didn’t have kids," she said, with a chuckle. "But the hours were long, and I couldn’t handle working Christmas Day when my children were opening presents."

She left for work in police department records and then later in building permits and inspections.

"When my second son was born, I quit my job altogether to be a stay-at-home mom," said McCain, whose children are 12-year-old Jon and 6-year-old Andrew.

That lasted about three years, and she returned to school.

Then came the huge blow — the layoff of her husband, Chris, from Comcast.

"They laid off his whole department. It was pretty devastating," McCain said. "The only place that worked out was Flowery Branch, Ga. He got a job out of Duluth.

"I told him I’d follow him anywhere, but it has to be warmer and there has to be somebody I know. It happens to work out that his sister lives in Cumming and his mother lives in Fayetteville."

McCain wasn’t planning on returning to work soon, but the city clerk position came open. She applied but didn’t get the job.

In September 2005, she became the city’s permitting clerk. City Council appointed her as city clerk in January 2006.

Still going to school, she expects to receive her bachelor’s degree in psychology in October.

McCain has received her clerk certification through the University of Georgia and is working to become a master city clerk, a program she hopes to complete in February.

Seems these days, she has found her niche.

"I am just a people person. I’ve always enjoyed helping people," McCain said. "That’s one of the reasons I was a police officer — to make a difference and not make experience with government a terrible thing."