RUMFORD — Selectmen presented awards Thursday night to people who had served Rumford for several years.
Those recognized by the board and Town Manager Carlo Puiia were retirees Ed Ferland of the Highway Department, police Sgt. David Bean, and volunteer fire call-force members Louie Giroux and Gordon Phillips.
Puiia said Ferland retired after serving 11 years; Bean served 25 years; Giroux served 32 years and Phillips served 37 years.
Selectmen and Puiia also recognized former Selectman Mark Belanger and 2011 Citizen of the Year Jim Rinaldo.
All but Rinaldo received service awards. All received loud applause, and Rinaldo received a standing ovation.
Bean thanked townspeople for allowing him to serve the town, in which he drove every street while on patrol and got to know every resident during his tenure, he said.
Of Giroux and Phillips, Puiia said, “These are guys who when the bell rings, they hop in their vehicles and get to the scene of the fire.”
Of Belanger, Puiia said he served two three-year terms. He also credited Belanger with championing the secret ballot procedure of voting, which drew more people to the polls than did regular town meetings.
Like Bean, Belanger also thanked townspeople for allowing him to serve them.
Puiia then read a two-page prepared statement that listed Rinaldo's qualities and accomplishments.
“When I was approximately 14 years old, I started working at my parents' hardware store,” Puiia said.
“Our Citizen of the Year was my supervisor, my first real boss. It was a great experience.”
“He taught me about job responsibilities, organizational skills, customer service and communications,” Puiia said.
“In my eyes, our Citizen of the Year has been an inspiration not only to me, but to others.”
Puiia said Rinaldo leads by example, is a team player, displays a never-diminishing patience and confidence in helping Rumford, and has led a persistent crusade toward economic development.
Rinaldo is a member of the River Valley Growth Council and River Valley Technology Center Board of Directors.
Puiia said Rinaldo:
* Helped coordinate improvements and bring in new tenants at the Tech Center.
* Helped get the Pennacook Art Center into the Tech Center.
* Spearheaded creation of the Rumford Performing Arts Committee “that has brought life to our auditorium with music, theater and special events.” The group is also credited with naming it the Rumford Falls Auditorium.
* Successfully lobbied selectmen to commission the sculpture of Babe the Blue Ox to lure visitors to Paul Bunyan at the Information Center into the downtown area. He also recruited Mountain Valley High School students to voluntarily paint blue hoofprints from Babe to Paul to create a walking guide.
* Served on the local school board for three years and as a selectman for two separate three-year terms, and coached Little League baseball and basketball.
* Helped Rumford get its first Industrial Park and FMI to town, which created 28 jobs then.
* Helped the town acquire the former Abbott Farm Plaza off Route 2, which is now the River Valley Crossing Plaza, and helped to secure a developer to revitalize that strip mall.
* Started a co-op for local crafters to sell their Maine-made products through Bartash's.
* Sought and brought Pizza Hut to the River Valley area, creating 16 new jobs.
* Invented and patented a portable latrine called the “Jungle Jon.”
* Recently became a published author of a children's book, “Wally the Worm's Adventures on the Farm.”
“I wish his parents, Dominic and Beatrice Rinaldo, were still alive to witness this recognition, because I know they instilled in him many of the fine qualities that drives him, and they deserve a thank-you as well,” Puiia said.
“This is an honor that is just not given; it is an honor that is earned.”
Rinaldo thanked his wife, Carrie, of nearly 35 years, the board, Puiia and the large crowd that came to witness the ceremony.