ATHENS — At the close of the annual Town Meeting on March 11, Athens First Selectman Mark Munn took the opportunity to note the recent winner of a statewide essay contest for seventh graders on community matters and to introduce the latest recipient of the gold-topped Boston Post Cane.
Patricia Thody, a student of teacher Kassie Dwyer at the Athens Community School, was announced as a winner of the seventh annual contest sponsored by the Maine Municipal Association. Thody is one of only three seventh-graders in Maine to win the contest this year.
The topic for all submissions was “If I led my community, how would I make my city or town a better place to live?” with the opening line “If I led my community …”
Munn said he thought it was a good time to also announce that Freda Rowell was the recipient of the Boston Post Cane. The canes were part of a 1909 Boston Post newspaper promotion and were sent to 431 towns in New England with instructions for them to be given to the oldest resident of the town. The tradition continues today.
Rowell, 92, ran Rowell’s General Store in Athens with her late husband, Earland, for 40 years and is widely known in the Athens community.
Later Munn said, “After the Town Meeting I read a letter from MMA and explained the contest is designed to inspire our next generations to become local leaders. I had Kassie Dwyer come up and award Patricia with the certificate and a $250 Visa card, and the town presented her with a bouquet of flowers and thanked her for her involvement.
“Then I used Patricia and her apparent interest in being involved and possibly leading her community to introduce Freda Rowell as a lifelong resident who had spent many years being part of and contributing to Athens and also the next recipient of the gold top Boston Post Cane.”
Thody wrote in her winning essay that if she led her community she would make a law “for people to quit smoking” and to have more of a police presence in Athens and a bigger Board of Selectmen. She said she was excited and shocked to have won.
“I would have more selectmen in our community, and I would also put a police station in our community so that people get the help they need in a matter of minutes,” she wrote. She said her grandmother suffers from the effects of smoking, and burglaries last year at Jim’s Variety make her think having more police in town would be a good idea.
As for the three-member Board of Selectmen in town, Thody said Athens needs more people making choices that affect the whole town. She said a board of 10 people would better “because that is enough opinions to actually do something with our town.”
She is the daughter of Paula and Chris Thody.
Her teacher, Kassie (Moulton) Dwyer, 27, grew up in Athens. Dwyer’s mother, Tammy Moulton, is an eighth-grade teacher at the school. Kassie and her husband, Joe, run a small farm in town, raising beef and other livestock and produce.
Freda Rowell said she received the Boston Post Cane and a plaque from the town.
“I was surprised to get the plaque,” she said. “It was supposed to be a secret, but someone called (daughter) Dianne, and of course, nosy me, I wanted to know who it was so she had to tell me. But I didn’t realize it was going to be so big at Town Meeting. I’m very grateful for this honor and very thankful.”
In addition to the honors accorded Thody and Rowell, Town Clerk and Tax Collector Tracey Rotondi and Treasurer Donna Courtemanche were recognized for their many years of service.
Doug Harlow — 612-2367