TRENTON, Maine — Since 1971, residents have been greeted consistently by a familiar face whenever they come to the town office.
Sometime before the end of next June, when Trenton’s current fiscal year will come to an end, that will change.
Over the past 38 years, whenever residents have come to the town office to register to vote, pay their property taxes or conduct other business with the town, Janet Muise has been there to help them. But Muise has informed selectmen that she plans to retire before the 2010-2011 budget year gets under way.
She said Thursday that they have decided to advertise her position and hire a suitable candidate when one becomes available so that she or he can learn the job from the woman who has held it for nearly 40 years.
That job pretty much combines all of the usual administrative duties that come to mind when one thinks of municipal governance in a small town. According to the most recent Trenton town report, Muise is the town clerk, tax collector, treasurer, welfare director and registrar of voters.
“I hold quite a few offices,” she said Thursday while sitting at her desk. “I’m the administrative assistant, really. Whoever takes this job is not going to learn it overnight.”
Muise said she has no plans to travel or to take up some other line of work.
“It’s time,” she said. “I want some time to myself, but I will miss the people. That’s probably why I’ve stayed as long as I have.”
Muise said she plans to stay active with the Fire Department, where her husband, Kelton Muise, is the chief. The Fire Department, she noted, is just down the hall.
“That’s part of both of our lives,” she said. “This is my home away from home.”
Muise said her workload has increased steadily over the years, as the town has grown and has had to meet more state mandates. Before 1978, when Trenton built a new school on Route 3, the town had no office, she said. She worked out of her house until that year, when the town decided to move into the recently vacated school building on Route 230, where the town office now is located.
“The office does need two people now, or at least 1½,” Muise said.
She gestured toward Selectman Carlene Hanscom, who sat at another desk helping Muise with her work.
“She’s the half,” she said as the two women broke into laughter.
Hanscom said Trenton would miss Muise, even if she will remain a regular fixture around town.
“The trouble with losing Janet is you’re going to lose a lot of info,” Hanscom said. “She knows everybody.”
Muise said that in retirement she’ll have the chance to get the Fire Department to put out a cookbook, a fundraising idea the department has had for a while. That will be a way she can stay engaged with residents, she said.
‘We’re always looking at things to do,” Muise said. “I like my work. I always have.”