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Sumner's ad. assistant is retiring after 30 years
SUMNER — Cynthia Norton, who has been part-time administrative assistant to the town's selectboard for the past 30 years, is retiring from the position, she announced recently.
Norton, who will be turning 63 years old this year, said she just felt the time was right. "I just want to do other things," she said.
According to Norton, leaving her part-time position with the town has nothing to do with dissatisfaction with the job. She will now get to spend more time with her husband, Mike, who retired two years ago from General Electric, she said.
Last June, Norton retired from Hartford-Sumner Elementary after 27 years as librarian educational technician. Before getting hired at the town office, she was a volunteer in the school's library for years, reading books to children, grades K-5.
Norton said once she officially retires from her position with Sumner at the end of September, she and Mike will do more outside activities together, such as hiking with their dog Samson.
"There are things that we want to do together," she said. According to Norton, they also enjoy biking and going to car shows together – they own a 1966 Dodge Dart and a 1964 Plymouth Belvedere.
She and Mike plan to visit their two-year-old granddaughter, Madison, in New Jersey and attend their 14-year-old grandson, Caelen's, sports events more often.
She will also have more time to catch up on projects she has pushed aside over the years. "I've got plans for renovating my flower beds," she said.
Norton said working as administrative assistant to the selectboard has been a great experience and has complemented her position at Hartford-Sumner Elementary.
"What I always like to tell people, is that I had two jobs and they were the best; at the school I got to know the kids. At the town [office], I got to know their parents," she explained.
According to Norton, the plan is to hire someone to fill her position by July, at the start of the new budget cycle. She said she will then work with the new hire from July to September, before she leaves, to get them up to speed.
"Certainly, they can call me anytime when there is a problem with something," Norton said.
Norton said she had no prior experience as administrative assistant before joining Sumner. "It's always been Sumner," she said. Norton has lived in Sumner since 1980.
Before moving to Sumner, she and Mike lived in Norway.
To qualify as administrative assistant, Norton said the applicant must have a high school diploma, participate in a Maine assessing workshop, receive notary certification and be adept in computer technology.
"Anything that's associated with working in a business office," Norton said.
Over the years, she has assisted residents with paperwork and advice, making sure their voices are heard at the municipal and state level and that everyone's property is properly assessed, she said.
Other duties have included maintaining the town's tax commitment book, preparing tax bills and being the secretary to the selectmen. She works 1,000 hours per year, which equals to about 20 hours per month.
"Each day is full paperwork, phone calls, plotting deeds and tax maps, and greeting and getting to know the people of Sumner," said Norton. "It is a job that requires commitment and it is well worth every minute of it."
"She is very competent," said Selectboard Chairwoman Mary Ann Haxton, who has worked with Norton for about six years.
"She has been very helpful to us as new selectboard members, helping us get oriented," Haxton said. Norton's assistance is especially welcome when there are questions about tax assessments, Haxton added. "She does a lot of research for us."
Right out of high school, Norton worked in shoe shops in the Lewiston-Auburn area, but nothing compares to the last 30 years working at the Sumner Town Office, she said.
"It's been a lot of good years," she said. "Meeting people, knowing people."
She said, in a way, she is sad to give up the job. "It's time to move onto something else – no hard feelings," she said.
"I'm getting excited that this year I will be done working ... .The possibilities are endless.
"I have been truly blessed with both of my jobs and with the friendships I have formed over the last 30 years," said Norton.
"I would hope that the person who takes my place in the Sumner Town Office looks at the position as one of great opportunity."
"It's been terrific," said Sumner's Town Clerk Susan Runes, of working with Norton for the past 29 years. During this time, they have also become close friends, Runes said.
"She's a really good person and a good person to be working with."