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Jim Clements, Eliza Conde named Citizens of the Year



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With “Dr. Suess is on the Loose” as the theme for this year’s Tilton-Northfield Old Home Day festivities on Saturday, the Cat in the Hat had two thumbs up Monday night, when he met the 2012 Citizens of the Year Jim Clements of Tilton and Eliza Conde of Northfield. (Donna Rhodes) (click for larger version)
June 20, 2012
NORTHFIELD — Reminiscent of the Whos in Whoville, residents of Tilton and Northfield gathered together at the Pines Community Center Monday evening to sing the praises of two of their finest citizens as festivities ramped up for the joint Old Home Day activities this weekend.

The theme of the 2012 celebration is "Dr. Seuss is on the Loose," and Citizens of the Year Eliza Conde (Northfield) and Jim Clements (Tilton) unexpectedly walked into the Old Home Day awards banquet to discover they were this year's "Cats in the Hat."

Greeting them were members of the Old Home Day Committee and the Cat in the Hat himself, along with friends and town officials who applauded loudly as the two entered the room.

Scott McGuffin, a longtime friend of Clements, had the honor of presenting the Tilton School headmaster with a plaque, and said it was indeed an honor to do so.

"Jim is someone I've always considered a mentor. He has transcended himself to become a distinctive member of our two communities, and integrated his school into the communities, as well," McGuffin said. "It doesn't surprise me in the slightest that he was this year's choice for Citizen of the Year."

Clements was also recognized for his deep involvement with the Spaulding Youth Center, assistance in projects at the Tilton-Northfield American Legion, work towards the completion of Riverfront Park, and his consistent dedication toward the Tilton-Northfield Fire Department and other community organizations.

Tilton Town Administrator and fellow Northfield resident Joyce Fulweiler then brought Conde forward for her plaque presentation. Fulweiler first apologized to her friend, knowing Conde prefers to work quietly behind the scenes, but then spoke of the many ways Conde has dedicated herself to the community.

"We refer to Eliza as 'Oh Wise One' in Northfield. Once, I was having a rough day, and I announced I was at the end of my rope," Fulweiler recalled. "Eliza calmly looked up from her calculator, said 'Get a longer rope,' and kept on working."

She then read a list of Conde's deeds and commitments over the years. They included two terms as Northfield's tax collector, winters spent as a ski instructor at Highland Mountain, the Arch Park committee, lifetime Hall Memorial Library Trustee, Winnipesaukee River Trail Committee and a Northfield Election official. Conde is also serving (or has served) as secretary to the Conservation Committee (both Northfield and Tilton), Knowles Pond Conservation Committee, Northfield's Planning and Zoning Boards, the Park Cemetery Association and the Winnisquam Regional School Board Budget Committee. Conde was also a founder of the Society for the Protection of Artificial Wildlife in a widely publicized spoof along Exit 19 of the interstate for several years. The list of her involvement goes on, and in her "spare time," Fulweiler said, she manages to run a farm where she grows raspberries, and produces and sells her own maple syrup, jams and maple candies.

Both Conde and Clements were humbled by their selection as Citizens of the Year, and thanked those who honored them.

For Clements, the award capped off a very special day. He said he officially ended his 14 years as headmaster of Tilton School that day, was celebrating his wife Bev's birthday, and "Now, to receive this tonight is an honor and a privilege, one I share with Eliza, who is so deserving."

The pair also took time to graciously pose for photos with special guest, the Cat in the Hat.

Committee members promised Monday evening was only the prelude to the fun yet to come over the weekend.

Old Home Day will kick off this Saturday morning at 6:45 a.m. on Park Street with the D.A.R.E. 5K road race registration at the Northfield Police Station. The Fun Race will start at 7:45 a.m., and the 5K will head out at 8 a.m. The parade, featuring both Conde and Clements, will begin at 10 a.m., and committee Chairman Peg Shepard said it is an event no one should miss.

"This year's Old Home Day is going to be a fun day for families. The hour-long parade will be even bigger and more colorful this year, and we hope everyone will come out to enjoy 'Dr. Seuss on the Loose,'" she said.

Following the parade, there will be a day filled with food, games, pie eating contests, craft booths, horse pulling events, and live music at the Pines. The day will wrap up with a smorgasbord dinner at the Tilton-Northfield United Methodist Church and fireworks from Riverfront Park in Tilton at dusk. Rain date for this year's Old Home Day festivities will be June 24.`

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