DOVER-FOXCROFT, Maine — Barbara Moore is leaving her home away from home, and it’s a somber occasion for the Dover-Foxcroft woman.
For nearly 30 years, Moore was the Dover-Foxcroft town clerk and treasurer, spending as much time in her office as she did in her Main Street home. Now age 67, she reluctantly has called an end to her public service to spend time with her real family.
‘’This has been my life. It’s a life-changing event — to me it’s almost like a funeral,’’ Moore said Friday on her last day, fighting back tears. ‘’I’m really torn, I’m really going to miss all the people I’ve worked with. I want the townspeople to know what a really dedicated work force this town has. I don’t think they fully appreciate the number of hours that they devote and they don’t ask for additional money. They do it because they care about the town.’’
Long before there were copy machines, computers and cellular telephones and when work was done by hand or on typewriters, Moore began work as secretary to former Town Manager Owen Pratt. Later that same year, 1982, she became deputy town clerk and deputy town treasurer. The Husson College graduate said she was elected town clerk in 1986, the same year she assumed the duties of treasurer. Twenty-four municipal elections followed when Moore ran unopposed.
“I’ve been very fortunate to have worked for just two town managers. They’ve both been wonderful bosses and they’ve both had great insight for the town,’’ Moore said, referring to Pratt and current Town Manager Jack Clukey.
Reflecting on her career, Moore said there have been good and bad times.
“I have had people shake their fingers at me and tell me, ‘You work for me, I pay your salary, so you are going to do what I say,’’’ she said, adding that only a few people have said such things. “You just have to take a deep breath and try to explain to them that the town is regulated by the state and federal government and it’s out of our control for the most part.’’
She still chuckles about a call from a local woman who believed town officials could fix almost anything. The woman complained that her Chia pet wasn’t growing any hair and asked what she should do. The woman was told to return it to the store where she purchased it, Moore said.
While those types of calls took time to respond to, it has been the continual string of state and federal mandates that have quadrupled the workload, according to Moore. Townspeople look back 25 years and remember when two people ran the office while now there are 10 full-time equivalents, and they just don’t understand how that came to be, she said.
Since Dover-Foxcroft is the county seat, all of the births and deaths at Mayo Regional Hospital are recorded with the town. In addition, the town serves as fiscal agent for local grants, and unlike most places, the wastewater department is part of municipal government, Moore said.
‘’I’ve always felt that it would be wonderful if every resident in this town could spend a day or a week in here just because they have no idea what goes on behind the scenes,’’ Moore said.
Moore said she typically worked 55 to 80 hours a week to complete her obligations. Her departure is the end of an era, she said. Never again will the same person serve as town clerk, town treasurer and registrar of voters, Moore said. Three people now assume those positions because of the workload.
Moore is most proud of the fact that she took the initiative to have the old town records restored. They were in horrible condition, she recalled. In fact, a representative of the restoration company retained for the work told her he received a prize for bringing in the worst set of books ever.
‘’I’m pretty pleased to say that all of our older records have now been restored and we’re working on making sure that we don’t lose the history of families in town and town meetings,’’ Moore stated.
Still active in her community, Moore said she will continue her work with the Dover-Foxcroft Kiwanis Club, the Homecoming Committee and the Friends of Central Hall. She also will help her husband, Bob, more in the couple’s business, Bob’s Sugarhouse, and she plans to do some office work for her daughter, who has a law practice in Dover-Foxcroft.
In the last official act of her tenure, Moore swore in Lisa Niles, her replacement as town clerk, on Friday afternoon. ‘’I’m really going to miss working with the public. I love this town,’’ Moore said.