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Award-winning Topsham clerk to retire after 22 years

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Award-winning Topsham clerk to retire after 22 years

TOPSHAM — Ruth Lyons, who last year was named clerk of the year by the Maine Town & City Clerks Association, plans to retire June 30 after 22 years on the job.

"It's time for me to do something part-time, and enjoy the rest of the time," the 30-year Topsham resident said last week. "I've had a wonderful run (with) the town of Topsham, and I've loved it; (I've) loved the people."

Lyons said she has had some job offers, but is still pondering her next step. Seasonal work at L.L. Bean might be an option, she said. She also wants to do more organic cooking.

Regardless of what she does, Lyons plans to remain visible in public life, she said.

She praised Topsham's residents for being so good to her, noting that "I'm just very attached to the townspeople."

Rich Roedner, who was recently named town manager after 12 years as planning director, said Lyons's impending departure marks "a whole new chapter for the town."

"We've been dealing with somebody who is very responsible (for) a whole range of activities," he said last week, referring to Lyons as a face of the community – a person residents go to see when they are paying taxes, registering cars, and voting.

"It's a huge position in a community," Roedner said.

Lyons' position is under a union contract, so the town is first required to post the job in-house. But could advertise publicly for applicants by the middle of this month.

Lyons is married, in her 60s, and has two children. 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 last year, noting that she was working in real estate at the time, and knew what the values should be.

"They were trying to get the (revaluation) done before the market fell, and that was wrong," Lyons explained.

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

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

Lyons was president of the state clerks association from 2005-2006, president several times of the Sagadahoc County Clerks Association, and organized several New England clerks conferences.

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 also has chaired the Maine Town & City Clerks scholarship committee, was an executive board member on the Southern Midcoast Chamber of Commerce, and has been treasurer of the Sagadahoc Agricultural and Horticultural Fair Association.

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