Jan Gunter retires after 14 years

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Special to the Opelika Observer

Leigh Krehling city’s new community relations officer

By Rebekah Martin
Associate Editor

For more than 14 years, Jan Gunter has worked for the City of Opelika as a liaison between the city administration and the public. Gunter, who has been the city’s community relations officer since January 2003, announced her retirement last fall, and will make it official Jan. 31.
Gunter’s department is responsible for a myriad of duties. According to the city’s website, the goal of the department is to facilitate communication between the City of Opelika and its residents, both private and business sectors, and help them stay well-informed about developments in Opelika’s governing infrastructure. The department also evaluates public perceptions and feedback from the community so that issues can be addressed in a timely manner. The community relations officer also handles the city’s website, Facebook page and mobile app, receiving updates sometimes 2-3 times a week.
Gunter said she is excited about life as a retiree. For now, after taking some time to rest, Gunter said she will be spending a lot of time on the road, traveling to her hometown of Kewanee, Ill., where her 90-year-old mother still lives. When not making the trek north, Gunter said she will be spending time with her three grandchildren and finishing her book entitled “Adopted by Grace.”
Gunter’s Opelika roots run deep. She has been married to Opelika’s city attorney Guy Gunter for 37 years. The two met at First Baptist Church of Opelika when Guy was a singles Bible class teacher and Jan was new to the area.
A lifelong resident of Opelika, Guy recently renewed his employment contract with the city and Jan said it would take an act of God to force him to retire.
Filling the void left by Gunter, Leigh Krehling joined the department last November after an 18 year career at Auburn’s Ellis Harper Advertising. Krehling is an Auburn University graduate, wife and mother of two. She is also on the board of directors of the Public Relations Council of East Alabama.
Gunter said she has known Krehling for a number of years and feels confident in her ability to make the Community Relations department even better. Gunter said Krehling brings more than just her background in PR to the city and that she has been a good addition. “Leigh has the ability to think about things that … I didn’t know to ask,” Gunter said.  “She’s young so she’s up on the social media. That’s going to be so fabulous for the city, because she’s going to be able to build it up.”
Krehling said she is up for the challenge and she is excited to be working for Opelika.
“I’ve known Jan for years. It’s been great working on projects with her over the years and honestly, I’m going to miss having someone else in the office to share ideas with,” she said. “Opelika is in my heart. I’ve worked with the school system and OPS on various projects for years in my previous job. So when the mayor offered me the position, I knew without a doubt that was where I belonged.”

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