Judy and Ernie Martens
“This is home!"
That’s how Judy and Ernie Martens feel about Sallisaw.
Ernie Martens’ career in education spans 39 years, with 15 of those years as high school principal at Sallisaw High School.
Judy Martens has been executive director of the Sallisaw Chamber of Commerce for 14 years.
Ernie will retire from the high school on June 19.
Judy retired from the chamber on Wednesday (June 13).
They both took a few remaining vacation days to close out their careers. And they are not sitting home on the couch.
The plan includes spending time with their young grandchildren. The Martens have five grandchildren, ages 6 to 16, Ernie said.
“That’s our plan,” Judy said. “We’re going to spend a lot of time with the young ones.”
Ernie added, “And I’m going to fish, a lot!”
The grandchildren like to fish too, along with the Martens’ son, Tucker, and son-in-law, George Bormann, husband to the Martens’ daughter, Holly.
Ernie said he likes to fish for anything at Brushy Lake and Tenkiller and Kerr Lake. He’s also fond of trout fishing on the Illinois River below the dam at Lake Tenkiller.
Judy said she plans on a two-month quiet time, spending time with family and friends.
In addition to fishing, Ernie said the Martens like to go to the grandkids many activities, which include softball, baseball, football and band.
“I may volunteer with an organization or I may even go back to work,” Judy said.
Both the Martens said they would like to take some short weekend trips over the coming year, and they would like to “work on the house.”
But Ernie’s volunteerism make take up a lot of his time. He was recently elected Sallisaw’s mayor.
Being mayor is “going to take up a lot of my time, but consider that volunteer time. I knew that when I decided to run for mayor,” he said.
That was also a factor in the couple’s decision to retire.
“We both decided to retire on our own,” Judy said.
She explained that after 14 years as chamber executive director, it was just time to turn the job over to someone else. The new director is Marty Green.
Ernie said, “I love the students. I love the staff. But I want to be able to stay home at night.”
The Martens accomplishments are record setting. The chamber’s membership is at a high and the organization hosts a number of crowd-pleasing events throughout the year, including last week’s Diamond Daze.
Judy said her greatest accomplishment is the chamber’s “program of work.”
Ernie points to the school system’s graduating students.
“When I first came here,” he recalled, “the dropout rate was at 26 percent. Now it's down to 12 percent. We’ve made great strides with the students furthering their education at college and at the vocational level.”
The new high school principal is Russell Tillery who now is assistant principal. Brad Jackson is the new assistant principal.
Ernie concluded, “I appreciate the support of the community and the friends we’ve made here in town.”
Judy concluded, “When we moved here, the community accepted our family with open arms, and many members of the community are like family.
“This is home!”
Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director
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