Nina Ripley has been in the employ of the South Dakota Plumbing Commission since 1997. After working 19 years as secretary, Ripley changed roles, and for the past three years has been serving as the Executive Director of the State of South Dakota Plumbing Commission.
“I’ve always preferred working in a man’s world,” said Ripley about her traditionally male-held job. “That transition was pretty easy for me.”
“I started working when I was 9-years-old just before coming to Onida,” said Ripley, explaining her mom established an in-home daycare after the family arrived in the community. “I worked all the time, nights, weekends, and in the summertime, I’d go into the homes of some of the daycare families and watch the kids there. One of her families she babysat for was the late Gayle and Gary Chase children. That gave mom a bit of a break.”
Ripley says the move to Onida from her West River origins was good for the family. “We had a lot of trauma in our lives when we were younger,” said Ripley. “I lost a brother. It was a good move coming here. I essentially grew up here, and graduated Sully Buttes.”
She went straight into the workforce in a job on Onida’s Main Street. “I went to work at J&M Clothing,” said Ripley about her job with the clothing store owned by John and Madeline Zebroski.
Parlaying skills learned at home into waitress and cook jobs, Ripley worked at the Kings Inn in Pierre and at the Fireside in Onida. “Before I started my family, I worked at the Kings Inn,” said Ripley. She worked a couple of summers at the Presbyterian Church Camp Rimrock near Rapid City. “I was the head cook for two years and able to have the kids out there with me off and on throughout the summer.”
She was eleven years at the Fireside, first as a waitress, and later as a cook, but carpel tunnel surgery disrupted her career there. “Since it was a work related injury, workman’s comp paid for my surgery, but I had to train to do another job,” said Ripley.
She enrolled in The Right Turn’s six-month clerical course, and after being in class just a few months, applied for the position with the Plumbing Commission. “Mike Richards, the Executive Director at the Plumbing Commission had been without a secretary, and I was encouraged to apply to get experience filling out applications,” said Ripley. She went for her interview and was hired on the spot. “I told him I didn’t know anything about computers and he told me he’d teach me everything I needed to know. He liked the longevity I’d shown working at the Fireside for eleven years, and that was one of the reasons he hired me.”
“It’s gone by really fast,” said Ripley about switching to the Executive Director role three years ago. “It’s been a challenge, but I really enjoy working with the guys” who she knows well from proctoring exams or speaking with them on the phone.
Read the Rest of the Story in The Onida Watchman! Single copies are $1.00 each and available at the Watchman office, 106 S Main, Onida, and at The Corner, Don’s Food Center, and Vilas Healthcare in Onida, the Medicine Creek and The Junction in Blunt, and at Dakotamart in Pierre. Subscriptions are $36 in Sully, Hughes, Potter, Stanley and Hyde Counties and for people in armed forces; $38 elsewhere in SD; $40 out-of-state; $1 single issue; $36 E-Subscription; or plus $12 to print subscribers.