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Town Clerk Christine Emerson, right, gets a hug from an election worker after Monday's town election that marked her retirement after 30 years in office.
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Emerson with Whitney Flynn, who will take on her duties after winning a write-in for town clerk with 55 votes.

Hugs & Cheers as Cheshire Town Clerk Closes Out 30-Year Career

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
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Town Clerk Christine Emerson gave the results of the town clerk election at the last to announce Whitney Flynn, right, as her replacement. Flynn says the town put her forward for the vacant seat. 
CHESHIRE, Mass. — Town Clerk Christine Emerson called out the final results of Monday's annual town election, purposely leaving the town clerk results to last. 
 
That's because she would be announcing the results of a write-in campaign for the person who would fill her vacancy at Town Hall — Whitney Flynn. 
 
"I just want to just tell you all that it's been wonderful," Emerson told her longtime election workers, her voice breaking. "I hope you will continue with Whitney. ... That's it, thank you all."
 
That wasn't all, of course, as she was applauded for her 30 years overseeing the town's elections and vital records. There were plenty of hugs and some tears for a closing out of her long career. 
 
Emerson said her decision to retire was largely prompted by two things — family and the looming presidential election.
 
"Number one, my kids said it's time," she said. "The other thing was that I didn't really want to get back into the political aspect. The last presidential election drove a lot of clerks out, if you look at Massachusetts, there are an awful lot of clerks that left and I had sworn to myself that I am not going to do another presidential ... it just got to me."
 
Emerson's tenure began in 1993 when she was recruited by then Town Clerk Ruth Andrew, who asked if she could put Emerson's name forward to replace her on her retirement. 
 
"I thought about it and I called her back and said, 'yes, I can," she said. "I was appointed in August to shadow her for a month. Then I took office in September. And then I ran for the office in '94. And so I've been running since '94."
 
During that time, she's seen her own children grow up and her grandchildren be born — along with a generation of Cheshire residents. She's recorded their births, their marriages and their children's births. 
 
"The best part of the job is I love the people. I do, I just I like being in service to the people," Emerson said. "Every day is different in that office because you wear so many hats. I never liked the political end of it, the town politic part of it. 
 
"But the people keep you going. The people that you see once a year for their dog license and you have a chat. And you ask them how their grandchild is doing or their child's doing in college, that kind of thing."
 
There have been some wonderful moments, she said, and projects within the office she's been able to get done. A major accomplishment was a capital program to restore the town's books, but a codebook she'd worked on for several years and hoped to complete is still waiting on the Attorney General's Office. 
 
Flynn, the assistant treasurer/collector, said she was recruited "by the town" to fill in as interim town clerk. She polled 55 write-in votes on Monday. 
 
She's been assisting Emerson the last few weeks to get an idea of her responsibilities and where things are situated in the office. 
 
"I'm interested in helping the town in whatever capacity that means," said Flynn. "I currently serve as the municipal clerk/assistant treasurer collector in a full-time capacity; in the coming year I will be serving as the assistant treasurer collector part time, and then this would be in addition to that."
 
She's lived in Cheshire for five years and will start her family here. This is another journey, Flynn said. "[Emerson] has said that she will assist me going forward if this was to be what the town wanted for me. So I'm grateful for her."
 
Emerson feels confident she's leaving the town in good hands, saying her election team "works like crazy."
 
"I know that they know their jobs. So I'm walking out knowing that," she said.
 
"I've done the best I can and I have enjoyed it."

Tags: retirement,   town clerks,   town elections,   

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M&J's Taste of Home Opens on Park Street on Wednesday

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff

Jeanne Lapier pours out a cup of coffee. The couple will continue their catering business though will likely do fewer pop-ups not that the restaurant is open. The diner closed a year ago under past management.
ADAMS, Mass. — The light and shining interior of the old Adams dining car on Park Street is ready for its newest incarnation: M&J's Taste of Home. 
 
The diner is set to open at 6 a.m. sharp on Wednesday morning and will be open through Saturday from 6 to 2 and Sundays serving breakfast only from 6 to 1. 
 
"I can't even put into words how exciting this is," said Jeanne Lapier before cutting the ribbon on Tuesday afternoon with husband Mark Lapier, Town Administrator Jay Green and Selectwomen Christine Hoyt and Ann Bartlett. "And how much support we've gotten, it's very humbling to see all the comments and hear everybody's response ...
 
"I hope we serve everybody to their expectations."
 
The Lapiers each have been involved in the food service business for decades — Jeanne was as grocery store customer service manager and Mark's been in out of the restaurant business, including as an owner of the former Big Shirl's in North Adams. They opened M&J's Taste of Home catering and food truck about six years. 
 
Mark's closed his landscaping business and the couple will focus on the diner and their catering operation. Jeanne said she also does custom baked goods and that having the restaurant — and its dishwasher — will be a big help in that area. 
 
The Lapiers will have Mark and another cook in the back, a second baker and kitchen help, with Jeanne out front.  
 
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