Selectman Gary Wight (left) presented Jim Sysko with his award. Bethel Citizen photo by Samuel Wheeler

 

NEWRY — The Newry selectmen’s meeting last week kicked off with Jim Sysko receiving the Spirit of America Award.

The award honors an individual who has shown devotion to his community.

“I was happy to do all this, it’s a wonderful little town,” Sysko said. “I’m happy to get it.”

He’s been an active member of the community for decades, having served on the town’s Planning Board from 1984-1989, select board from 1991-1993, the Growth Management Committee from 1989-1992 and the Cemetery Committee periodically since the early 1980’s.

Sysko also served on the three Newry Withdrawal Committees in the last 35 years. Town officials expressed their appreciation for all his efforts over the years.

“The amount of time, energy and expertise Jim has given committees and projects over the years  is long and impressive,” Selectman Jim Largess said. “It clearly shows his commitment to our community and his desire to help in multiple ways.  It is great to be able to recognize and celebrate his accomplishments  with this year’s Spirit of America Award.”

“Jim contributions to Newry are numerous; we are truly fortunate to have an advocate like Jim that cares about the town,” Newry Town Administrator Amy Bernard said.

Sysko has been an engineering consultant for the town and helped build the Town Office roof, established 100-year flood levels for the town, and helped people interested in building projects within the 100-year flood level along the Bear River. Sysko did similar work with flood levels in the Sunday River area. He said one of the biggest projects he did for Newry was a study of the Sunday River Road. Before the road was repaved, Sysko informed the town where new culverts and guardrails needed to be added.

His work has branched out to other towns also. He did flood level and erosion control studies in parts of Bethel, helped design and rebuild the dam in Lake Christopher and helped rebuild the dam in Greenwood near the Saunders Brothers mill.

He has more projects ahead of him. This summer he is rebuilding the Mosquito Pond bridge over the Crooked River in Albany Township.

In Bethel he is also known for his work on numerous projects, with perhaps his most notable ones being “Angus, King of the Mountain,” and “Olympia Snowwoman,” the record breaking snowman and snowwoman who both landed in the Guinness Book of World Records.

The record breaking snowman in 1999 led to many other opportunities for Sysko, who was project manager during the building of “Angus.”  He also oversaw the construction of a snow volcano, maze, ice tower and Olympia, who surpassed Angus’s record of 113 feet, seven inches in 2008.

Sysko also provided ideas on how to help build the zip lines at Sunday River. He has also built his own 5,000 foot zip line.

All his accomplishments simply stem from the fact that he loves what he does.

“I didn’t do all these projects in these different towns to get an award,” said Sysko. “I did it because engineering is fun. It’s a challenge and I enjoy it.”

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