By Dakota Antelman, Managing Editor
HUDSON – This year’s Annual Town Meeting was a last hurrah of sorts for three beloved local leaders now retiring after years of work in municipal government.
So, before and after the meeting began, a parade of colleagues lined up to offer congratulations.
“We only have the parking lot reserved until midnight,” Moderator Richard Harrity joked at one point as the speeches continued.
Parent praised for poise, leadership
Late last year, Executive Assistant Tom Moses announced he would be retiring after a long career in five different Massachusetts cities and towns, including Hudson.
Then, earlier this year, Select Board Members John Parent and Joe Durant both announced that they would not seek re-election following their current terms.
Parent served on the Finance Committee, the Affordable Housing Trust and the Community Preservation Committee before winning his seat on the Select Board in 2015.
“After talking to John almost every time, I came away with the feeling that the guy just has something up here,” colleague Jim Quinn said, pointing to his head.
Quinn presented Parent with a statue of a man in the famous “thinker” pose. This, he said, was a nod to Parent’s composure facing difficult challenges over the years.
State Representative Kate Hogan and State Senator Jamie Eldridge similarly echoed the praise, formally thanking Parent, Moses and Durant for their service.
Moses credited with bringing grant money to town
Addressing Moses, Eldridge and Hogan specifically lauded Hudson’s recent effectiveness in its pursuit of state grants. That, they said, was at least partially thanks to Moses’ leadership.
Later in the meeting, Finance Committee Chair Robert Clark chimed in with more local praise.
“The energy that you brought to your position, the way you thought outside of the box, and your refusal to acknowledge any dumb question as a dumb question has been remarkable,” he said.
Quinn offered gifts to Moses. At first, he said, he had tried to make a “tiny ukulele” as a recognition of Moses’ love for music. When that didn’t work, Parent whimsically presented Moses with the half-whittled chunk of wood and offered a gold painted blueberry basket.
Moses likes blueberries, Quinn said. That basket, he explained, represented an open invitation to always visit and pick from the bushes that grow on Quinn’s property.
Durant praised for ‘quiet dignity’
Leading all this, though, was Durant.
First elected in 1981, Durant is the longest serving Selectman in Hudson history. After 13 terms he’s stepping aside.
Quinn presented Durant with his own statue. This one showed a man holding his finger up to his mouth in a “shh” motion.
“There’s a quiet dignity about him,” Quinn said of Durant. “It’s hard to explain. But I tried to capture it.”
Town enters new era
Less than a week after town meeting, Moses finished his last day on the job. Just a matter of days after that, voters chose Parent and Durant’s Select Board successors in annual town elections.
“This is it,” Department of Public Works administrator Eric Ryder quietly told Durant back before Town Meeting.
“Yes!” Durant said with a smile, gently raising his fists in the air to celebrate.