Longtime health board member Doug Edson honored for contributions to Gill

  • Longtime member Doug Edson receives gifts at a Gill Board of Health meeting earlier this month. STAFF PHOTO/JULIAN MENDOZA

  • Longtime member Doug Edson receives gifts at a Gill Board of Health meeting earlier this month. STAFF PHOTO/JULIAN MENDOZA

Staff Writer
Published: 5/25/2022 5:15:13 PM

GILL — When Chair Jeffrey Blomstedt turned a corner with cupcakes and wrapped gifts at Gill’s last Board of Health meeting, smiling faces aimed toward retiring member Doug Edson summarized what there is to know about his presence through 33 years of service.

“Gill is a better place for all of us because of Doug Edson and his love of community,” Franklin Regional Council of Governments Health Agent and Gill Selectboard member Randy Crochier read aloud in Town Hall. “His love of Gill is evident whenever you speak to him. He has done and continues to do much for the community on his own and through his business.”

Edson, 71, moved from Northfield to Gill in 1975.

“I always thought the day I moved to Gill and started living here, it always felt like home to me,” he said.

Edson was first elected to the Board of Health on May 15, 1989, according to Crochier. He spent 27 years as chair, splitting time with his business, Renaissance Excavating. In his 33rd year, despite his service having been “absolutely a wonderful experience,” he said he “just thought it was time” to step down.

“I think it’s time to let someone else do it,” Edson said. “I put my time in for the town. I’ve enjoyed being on the Board of Health very much and I’m just looking forward to slowing down a bit and enjoying (life).”

Edson recalled his entry into the position being unconventional. After fielding encouragement from the community to run against an unpopular property developer vying for a Board of Health seat, Edson said he won at the polls 109 to 6 through write-in votes. He accepted his position, recognizing that he would be a good fit.

“It was just what I normally do in life, just try to help people out,” Edson said. “I’m a problem-solver, not a problem-maker. That’s who I am.”

Edson described his primary specialization being focused around septic systems. This work, he said, was his favorite to perform over the course of his tenure, especially when his insight translated to peace of mind for who he was serving.

“When you walk a person through (how to solve an issue), it takes the fear out of it,” he explained.

Edson added that the Board of Health addressing a drinking water issue at Gill Elementary School over the past few years was perhaps his proudest contribution to the town. He also voiced appreciation for fellow town officials, who he called “really nice people working together to make Gill a really nice home.”

As he personally looks forward to traveling the world after fully retiring and passing down his excavation business to his son, Edson is confident that the Board of Health is in good hands with its current personnel, including newly elected member Erika Heilig. Success will be achieved, he said, as long as the board continues to “be as accessible and helpful as (they) can be.”

“If someone has issues, we address them and we help them out in a nice way,” he said. “This world is getting more complicated. There’s been a lot of issues. We all went through COVID. There’s just a lot around us that I think could be very stressful to people.”

Such optimism, Edson said, is how he’s carried himself throughout his life.

“I live my life half full,” he said. “My glass isn’t half empty.”

Reach Julian Mendoza at 413-772-0261, ext. 261 or jmendoza@recorder.com.


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