Mayor Paul Grenier delivered a short inaugural speech on Monday night after taking his oath of office with Berlin City Council members in the City Hall auditorium in front of a very receptive audience.
Photo by Edith Tucker. (click for larger version)
January 17, 2012BERLIN — Mayor Paul Grenier who ran unopposed in his second successful bid for the city's top slot took the oath of office on Monday night.
Also participating in the biannual swearing-in ceremony were eight city council members, half of them men and half, women. "Four very talented and dedicated women took their oaths of office," noted Grenier, noting that this is a history-making event. "This marks the first time four women will serve on the Berlin City Council together at one time," he happily trumpeted. The Council is made up of "very gifted" men and women who are bring diversity to the table that will serve the city well, Grenier said.
Two newly elected council members were sworn in: Denise Morgan Allain of Ward II and Peter Higbee of Ward III. The City's dissolution of its four wards will not take effect until Sept. 1, following approval by the state's Secretary of State William "Bill" Gardner.
The six other members are: Lucie Remillard and Russell Otis of Ward I; Dori Ducharme of Ward II; Michael Rozek of Ward III; and Roland Theberge and Diana Nelson of Ward IV. Grenier presented plaques to outgoing councilors Thomas McCue and Mark Evans.
"As we celebrate the successes of the last two years, we need to remind ourselves of the difficult road that still lies ahead for our city," the mayor said. He listed still unemployed mill workers who likely will soon lose unemployment benefits plus the uncertainties and difficulties that appears likely for the Isaacson group of companies and their skilled hard-working workers, some already unemployed. Berlin must do all it can to keep these employees working, Grenier said. "They deserve no less effort than what was put forth for the mill workers, and we will carry the day," he said.
But, Grenier cautioned: "As we explore and encourage new employment opportunities, we must remind ourselves of who we are. Berlin is an honest, hard-working blue-collar city. That is our greatest strength."
With Gorham Paper and Tissue investing millions at Cascades and staffing also underway at the federal prison, he predicted: "Berlin will be able to boast of being a great place to raise a family and live a laid-back life."
The city will have to continue to be tough on landlords and tenants "who don't share our values" and to support law enforcement with resources sufficient "to root out and prosecute those who have no respect for their neighbors or our way of life," Grenier said.
He asked the City Council and City Manager to include monies in the next budget to fund the "Moving Downtown Forward" initiative.
Grenier also thanked John Halle and his associate Alex Ritchie, both of Cate Street Capital of Portsmouth, Lynn Tilton of Patriarch Partners, and key political players: Gov. John Lynch; Senator Jeanne Shaheen and her staff; and Congressman Charlie Bass and his North Country staffer, former House Speaker Gene Chandler of Bartlett.
He gave heartfelt thanks to his wife, Brenda, and their son, Eric, and his fiancée Christine.