After 16 years, Gill welcomes new town clerk

  • Doreen Stevens, at left, will assume the role of Gill town clerk on July 1. Her predecessor, Lynda Hodsdon Mayo, at right, is stepping down after 16 years in the role. Staff Photo/GRACE BIRD

  • Doreen Stevens, pictured, will replace Lynda Hodsdon Mayo as Gill town clerk starting July 1. Staff Photo/GRACE BIRD

Staff Writer
Published: 6/19/2019 6:37:14 PM

GILL — Doreen Stevens, a Diemand Farm cook who volunteers in the town office one day a week, will be Gill’s new town clerk starting July 1.

Stevens will replace the current Town Clerk Lynda Hodsdon Mayo, who will step down from her post after 16 years on the job.

Raised in Bernardston, Stevens and her husband moved to Gill in 1983. She has two grown children, Caitlin and Nicholas, and three grandchildren, who all live in the town.

Stevens began volunteering in the town office 12 years ago when her father-in-law, who was a Selectboard member at the time, requested her help when Gill was short-staffed. Stevens described the experience as “exciting and scary,” saying she enjoyed understanding more about how town government operates.

“I learned that it’s important to keep it local,” Stevens said.

Since then, Stevens stayed on as a volunteer, coming into the office one day a week to help out Hodsdon Mayo. When the opportunity to work as town clerk presented itself, Stevens threw her hat in the ring, saying it was “time for a change.” She will leave her job at Diemand Farm at the end of the month.

“I just thought, ‘It’s time to do something different,’” Stevens said.

As the town clerk job is part-time, Stevens said she will make her office hours public when they are finalized.

While Stevens has spent 12 years looking over her predecessor’s shoulder, she won’t have to travel too far to ask questions. Hodsdon Mayo will remain in her other role, part-time clerk to the Board of Assessors, working 20 hours a week.

Hodsdon Mayo’s career in town government happened later in life. Before becoming clerk at 50, she worked as a fourth-grade teacher at Bernardston Elementary School. And while she initially “didn’t have any idea what (the job) entailed,” Hodsdon Mayo described her time as clerk as “a gift.”

Day-to-day, Hodsdon Mayo said her responsibilities include organizing elections, conducting an annual census, handling birth, death and marriage certificates, giving out dog licenses, dealing with public inquiries and more. Of her duties, Hodsdon Mayo said she has most enjoyed finding historic records for residents who seek information on their ancestors. Gill has documents and meeting records dating back to its incorporation in 1793, she said.

“I think it opened a new door to me, as far as the history,” Hodsdon Mayo said. “Many people stop here because they’re searching for family roots, and we have the archives of the town. We help them find out who their ancestors might be who lived here. That kind of opens a new door for them.”

While her retirement is bittersweet, Hodsdon Mayo said she is looking forward to spending more time with her family, especially her three grandsons, who live just outside of Albany, N.Y.

“When you’re working a full day every day, you kind of miss out on some things that are happening with your family, and your ability to help out when they need help,” Hodsdon Mayo said.

Town Administrator Ray Purington spoke fondly of the dozen years he spent working alongside Hodsdon Mayo. Both served on the Board of Assessors before Purington became town administrator nine years ago.

“The thing that really rises to the surface every single time is the love for the residents,” Purington said. “Secondly, is her longstanding appreciation for the history of the town.”

While the two have different views and ways of thinking, Purington said, they share a strong belief in putting residents first.

“In general, the approach is: do what’s right for the town,” Purington said. “As long as you stick by that principle, you’ll be fine.”

Reach Grace Bird at gbird@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 280.


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