Just down from meter 156 sits a brick building where right inside the door is a window made of bulletproof glass. Looking up from her desk behind that window is Teresa Conchar, smiling. “Can I help you?” she asks. Conchar is well known around Shepherdstown, likely not by her name but by her job. She is a parking enforcement officer.
Conchar, a two-year veteran of the Shepherdstown Police Department, brings more than 30 years of experience to the department. She retired from the Charles Town City Police Department after 30 years of service. She spent eighteen of those years on the street doing parking enforcement before moving to indoor administrative work until her retirement.
“I got lazy and my health wasn’t as good as it could’ve been [after my retirement],” Conchar said. Conchar saw an ad in the newspaper for a parking enforcement officer and believed this would be a way to give back to the town.
“I could offer my knowledge from my years past,” she said. “People are interesting. They love their pets, and it is small and quaint,” said Conchar referring to her love for Shepherdstown.
Conchar begins her shift in the mornings, gathering her ticket pads, pens, watch, and cell phone before she hits the hilly, uneven sidewalks and streets of Shepherdstown. “I’d make it warm all the time,” she said, laughing while putting on her hat and gloves.
As Conchar made her way down the street, students and citizens alike were parking, rustling through their pockets for a dime but hoping for a quarter.
“It is the main streets; typically one block of them, and some residential areas,” Conchar said as she stood at an expired meter.
“Here’s one,” Conchar said, continuing down the street as she examined an expired meter. We have to “record the license plate number, state, type of vehicle, meter number, date, time and violation,” said Conchar, pulling the ticket apart and placing it under the driver-side windshield wiper. Conchar said the number of tickets she issues daily varies—as few as “three to as many as thirty.”
“It goes in spurts with various, weird violations,” said Conchar. She continued that the number of tickets issued can depend on the month or time of year, holiday season and if school is in session.
Moving slowly about the town, Conchar stops and talks to locals and visitors.
As she walks, she throws residents’ newspapers from the sidewalk onto their porches, picks up trash and recyclables and deposits them appropriately. It is apparent Conchar takes great pride in performing her job in her adopted hometown.
Originally from Clarksburg, W. Va., Conchar moved to Shepherdstown in 1974 and started a family. She has two grown children in their thirties and several grandchildren, who are her “pride and joy.” “I come from a huge family. We have one police officer,” said Conchar. She continued by saying that her family has large military background.
Raised Catholic, Conchar admits that she stepped away from religion for a while. “I just couldn’t get wrapped around [Catholic religion],” she said. After some time away and visiting other churches, Conchar joined a local Methodist church where she is active in the choir.
When Conchar is not patrolling the streets of Shepherdstown, she can be found at home gardening, crocheting or spending time with her family or pet. Katrina is Conchar’s St. Bernard. The dog is named after the historical storm that pummeled the Golf Coast on Aug. 29, 2005.
“She was born the day the storm hit,” said Conchar.
Conchar is an animal lover. “There was a student last year whose cat would follow him to school every morning,” said Conchar. Shortly before school was going to let out for summer recess the cat disappeared. Conchar said the cat hasn’t been located to her knowledge.
Conchar describes Fluffy, another town animal she loves to encounter.
“Fluffy would throw himself in front of you on the sidewalk and roll over for you to rub his tummy. He has long hair and is chunky,” said Conchar. “It is a good day if I get to see Fluffy out and rub his tummy.”
Continuing through town, like a tour guide, Conchar shares little facts about the university, side streets, homes and businesses along the way. “There was a camera that someone had tied a string to, hanging from a branch with an invitation to take a picture. I think it would have been interesting to see the photos,” Conchar said when passing a medium-sized tree that had grown through the sidewalk, pushing the bricks back.
Conchar returns every several hours to the office to turn in issued tickets for filing, use the restroom or get lunch.
“I typically pack my lunch. I like quinoa, yogurt, a fresh apple and coffee or tea,” said Conchar. “But if I am going to go out, I like something hot.” Conchar said she frequents Betty’s Restaurant and Maria’s Tacqueria. She described the reasonable prices and decent portions.
Conchar takes her hat and gloves off, puts her bag down, smiles and address a customer at the window. The conversation is personal—the customers are more than customers.
“Have a nice day,” she tells the lady as she exits the building.
Returning to her desk, Conchar files her issued tickets away and warms up before returning to the streets of a town she loves.