June 16 • 01:08 AM

Not your average Valentine

Valentines deliver assessments to area taxpayers

February 10, 2010
ALMONT — With a name like Valentine you'd think life would be full of hearts and flowers—and for Tom and Debby Valentine it generally is.

But sometimes the husband and wife professional tax assessors have people seeing red—the property tax assessment notices they deliver bear no resemblance to any sort of 'Valentine.'

Such is life for Tom and Debby in their role as Almont Township tax assessors. On Thursday, they'll share tips and pointers just in time for Valentine's Day at the Almont Area Chamber of Commerce's 'Wake up Almont' breakfast meeting at the Lions Hall.

Tom and Debby Valentine share love of job and each other.
Married in 1980, the college sweethearts came upon their life in the tax lane somewhat unexpectedly.

When Tom became a victim of GM downsizing in 1988, he turned to farming his land in Fostoria full time. Debby became his business partner as the couple raised cash crops—corn, soybeans, hay and a few head of cattle.

In 2000 Tom entered the Marathon Township Supervisor race. As part of his preparation, he trained to become a certified tax assessor. Tom lost the race by just five votes, but he gained a new career when he was contracted to work as Marathon Township's assessor.

While he was studying to become certified, Debby was right there. She helped him study and prepare for the certification test. Along the way she learned a lot, and in 2002 obtained her own certification.

Since then they've been busy. Along with their dual role in Almont Township, Tom is assessor in Marathon Township and Genesee County's Forrest Township. Debby assesses property in Watertown Township and Vassar in Tuscola County.

While the job's hardly romantic, Tom says working with his wife is great.

"She's my best friend," he says. "She's the first person I talk to in the morning and the last person I talk to at night."

The Valentines celebrate Valentine's day much like everyone else, Tom says, with a big twist, Debby adds.

"He proposed to me on Valentine's Day," she says.

It's probably no coincidence that Tom chose that day to pop the question. This year they mark 30 years of marriage. They're also celebrating the arrival of their first grandchild, Natalie, born two months ago.

The Valentine's theme carries through other areas in the lives of the Valentines as well.

Debby's mom— Betty Wortz of Davison—was born on Valentine's Day. A crafter, Debby likes to fashion heart-shaped things, many of which decorate their home.

When they started farming full time in the late 80s, they chose the name 'Heart Farms.'

"We have fun with the name which is kind of unique," Tom says. "It's actually rather common, but not many people know a Valentine."

Debby and Tom have two sons. Jason, 26, and his wife Melissa Valentine are Natalie's parents. Ben, 25, is single; "still looking for his Valentine," Tom chuckles.

Catherine Minolli is Managing Editor of the Tri-City Times. She began as a freelance writer with the Times in 1994. She enjoys the country life, including raising ducks and chickens.
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