Vicki Ensign leaves courthouse after 40 years in treasurer's office

Vicki Ensign


January 19, 2023

For the first time since 1969 there is not a member of the Thornberry family serving the residents of Nuckolls County at the county courthouse.

Doris Thornberry began working in the county clerk’s office in 1969. With the retirement of her daughter, Vicki Thornberry Ensign, the family presence at the courthouse ended.

Vicki was raised on a farm north of Nelson. She is a Nelson High School graduate. After graduation, she worked at the Nelson elevator and the Nelson Good Samaritan Home. She was a stay at home mother after that.

She married John Ensign in 1976. The couple raised two children: Jessi, who resides in Hastings with her husband, Nathan, and Kelly, a Blue Hill resident. Kelly and her husband, William, have two sons, Caleb and Jacob.

Ensign began work as a clerk at the courthouse in the office of the county treasurer in 1982. Dorothy Joy was the treasurer at the time while Tom Mason served as the deputy treasurer.

She was appointed deputy treasurer in May, 1991. Mason succeeded Joy as treasurer. He died while in office. Andrew Ostdiek was named to serve out his term. Ostdiek resigned and Ensign was appointed to serve in his stead. She ran for a full term as treasurer in May, 2002. She was successful in the Republican primary. She had no Democratic party opposition and was elected. She has been reelected each time she ran.

She elected to retire after her 2018 term expired in 2022. Her successor, Tami Sharp, was sworn into office on Jan. 5, 2023, ending Ensign’s service to the county.

Ensign was present for and presided over many changes during her time at the courthouse.

Technological advances have reduced the amount of paperwork to be done by hand.

When she began working there, all motor vehicle registrations were done by typewriter. Manual tabulators did the adding for county tax bills. Photos for driver’s licenses were taken in the treasurer’s office.

All receipts for tax payments were hand written.

The first computers arrived in the office in 1985.

A big change came when the state took over the issuance of driver’s licenses. All legal descriptions on tax bills were hand written prior to the use of computers. Ensign said the transition to computers was the biggest change in the office. It freed up workers to perform other tasks.

Some things never change. Every six years, Nebraska residents receive new license tags for their vehicles and trailers. The plates are delivered to the office in boxes. The plates are then physically removed from the boxes and placed on shelves. An arduous and time consuming task. The office received 100 boxes of plates for the upcoming registration year.

Ensign offered a surprising response when queried about her retirement plans. She said she was “going to watch beer being canned.” Her daughter and son-in-law are the proprietors of First Street Brewing in Hastings. She didn’t mention how much taste testing she would do.

Ensign said she would miss her co-workers and the camaraderie of the courthouse and the residents but not the work.

She has already purchased tickets for the NCAA volleyball Final Four tournament at Tampa, Fla. in December, 2023. Beer and volleyball. Sounds like a good retirement plan.


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