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First among town clerks: Topsham's Ruth Lyons honored as state's best

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First among town clerks: Topsham's Ruth Lyons honored as state's best

TOPSHAM — Ruth Lyons, the town clerk for more than 20 years, has been named clerk of the year by the Maine Town & City Clerks Association.

"I'm very honored," Lyons said last week. "You never know how people really feel about you. ... It's just unbelievable, the 50 or 60 comments I've gotten. I didn't know other clerks felt this way about me. You don't see yourself, like they see you."

She added that she almost feels guilty, "because there are other clerks who are just as deserving as I."

"We are always pleased when an employee is recognized by her peers for being a mentor to new clerks and service to the statewide organization," Town Manager Cornell Knight wrote in an email Tuesday. "We are very happy for her."

Lyons was nominated by several fellow clerks, including Lisbon's Twila Lycette.

"Ruth is a compassionate person and always supportive," Lycette wrote in her nomination of Lyons. "She encourages other clerks and is often found surrounded by laughter and smiling faces. ... Her expertise and charisma entices others to follow. She leads by example: whether that's eating nutritious organic foods or resolving tough election problems, we know her advice will stand strong."

Linda Morrell and Judith Vance, the clerk and deputy clerk, respectively, in Windham, said Lyons has been an asset to her community and profession. "Ruth is a very dedicated, professional and knowledgeable person to work with," they wrote. "She shows great leadership and integrity in her profession as Clerk. Ruth is not afraid to jump in and help whenever needed; which makes working with her very enjoyable."

Lisa Goodwin, Bangor's city clerk, said she admires Lyons' "honesty and ability to speak up for what is right regardless of public sentiment. She is not afraid to 'rock the boat' to speak up for the taxpayers and citizens of Maine."

Lyons, who is married, in her 60s, and has two children, has lived in Topsham for 29 years. As a resident in 1990, she challenged a revaluation done at a time when real estate values had declined.

"I had a thousand people come out to my meeting," she recalled, noting that she was working in real estate at the time, and knew what the values should be.

"They were trying to get the reval done before the market fell, and that was wrong," Lyons said.

A Town Meeting was held, and about $400,000 was abated to residents. After that, the town offered Lyons a job.

She started in 1990 as an assistant tax collector, became deputy town clerk in 1991, and then town clerk in 1992.

Lyons's service includes being president of the state clerks association from 2005-06, president several times of the Sagadahoc County Clerks Association, and organizing several New England clerks conferences, according to Lycette's nomination.

Lyons also served on the Maine Municipal Association's Conference Committee last year, and serves on the board of directors of the New England Municipal Clerks Institute, from which she graduated in 1994.

She additionally chairs the Maine Town & City Clerks scholarship committee, was an executive board member on the Southern Midcoast Chamber of Commerce, and is treasurer of the Sagadahoc Agricultural and Horticultural Fair Association, according to Lycette.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.