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Hampton Selectmen past and present hold last meeting in the old town hall

By Nancy Rineman

Atlantic News, November 18, 1999

[The following article is courtesy of the Atlantic News ]

Present and former selectmen
A REUNION OF THE MINDS – Hampton Selectmen past and present sat in for a final meeting in the Selectmen's room on Monday evening. Seated, left to right are: Tom Gillick, Arthur Moody, Ansell Palmer, Mary Louise Woolsey, Vic Lessard, Jim Fallon, Glyn Eastman, Dona Janetos and Michael Plouffe. Standing, left to right are: Virginia Bridle, Brian Warburton, Fred Rice, Bonnie Searle, and William Skip" Sullivan. [Atlantic News Photo by Nancy Rineman]

HAMPTON — The whistling winds rattling the door of the Hampton selectmen's meeting room did nothing to detract from the historic goings-on at Monday night's board meeting, as current members welcomed former selectmen in a farewell salute to the old town office building.

Chairman of the Board of Selectmen, Fred Rice, welcomed nine Hampton residents who, although not recent chair-dwellers in the selectmen's room, all had vivid remembrances to share with the public based on their experiences as town officials.

In attendance were Ansell Palmer, Mary Louise Woolsey, Tom Gillick, Arthur Moody, Vic Lessard, Jim Fallon, Glyn Eastman, Dona Janetos, and Michael Plouffe. One by one, they took turns sitting on "the other side of the table," taking all who listened on a nostalgic trip through pages of Hampton's history.

Vic Lessard, currently a member of the zoning board of appeals, said he remembers his time on the board of selectmen as one which "brought the town and beach together." Joining Lessard at the table was Jim Fallon, who said he was happy to see the move to the new building.

"One big difference right here now, Mr. Rice," Fallon said ' those days everyone at the table had a cigarette or cigar going," and described the scene at meetings as one of hazy smoke."
Mary Louise Woolsey spoke about the "short number of women" who have served on the Hampton Board of Selectmen, raising a few chuckles when she offered, "Maybe someday there will be five ladies sitting here." Woolsey said she was proudest of the relationships maintained with fellow board members both on the job and off.

Former Selectman Ansell Palmer praised the departments and department heads as attributing to the many services Hampton enjoys. He and former board colleague Dona Janetos reminisced about implementing the four-way stop on Mill Road, and "taking the rap for it."

"Like all the boards, we aimed at civility," Janetos said. "I can't remember any moment when we were not polite to each other. It's not so bad being on the firing line – it gives you a chance to stand up and say what you believe in."

Janetos said she considered her reason for running for the board of selectmen at the time as a means of completing her resume, since she had done all the other boards.

"It saved my husband from doing it," she remarked.

The combination of Arthur Moody, Tom Gillick, and Michael Plouffe sitting together at Monday's meeting provided added insight to the meetings of the former selectmen. After several opening comments by Moody, Gillick – relaxing in his chair – brought down the house by telling Moody, "Gee, Art, I thought I was still on the board ... nothing's changed, has it?"

Gillick said being on the board was a great education and a lot of fun, adding that he always enjoyed working with all the people. Former Selectman agreed that sitting at the selectmen's table had a lot of rewards, adding that he knew from experience as well that "it's much easier to sit back there and shoot the bullets than it is to sit up here and take them.

Moody countered by thanking Plouffe for his years on the board because his laid-back manner gave Mary Louise and himself "a chance to speak more."

Moody and Rice traded knowledge about the origin of the town office building, which was built as a temporary structure 59 years ago when the town hall of the 1800's burned in 1949. The selectmen's room of Monday night's meeting was an addition to the building 25 years ago, and Moody noted that for the first time in 155 years, that location would no longer be headquarters of the town's civil government.

Hampton selectmen will be meeting for the first time in their new selectmen's room on Monday, November 22, at 7 p.m., following tours and refreshments at 4 p.m., and a ribbon cutting ceremony at 6 p.m.

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