MEREDITH — The annual Railroad Promotion Marketing Day went off as planned Saturday despite the absence of the man who started it, Executive Councilor Ray Burton, and nearly 200 people headed north from the Meredith Train Station on the Hobo and Winnipesaukee Scenic Railroad for a train ride and lunch at the Plymouth Senior Center.
Burton, who has served as Executive Councilor for District 1 for 18 terms and recently announced that he would not run for re-election due to a re-occurrence of kidney cancer, was honored the day before at a ceremony at a scenic overlook in Bretton Woods near the Mount Washington Hotel which drew both of the New Hampshire's U.S. senators, Governor Maggie Hassan, as will as past governors and state officials that Burton has served with in his nearly 40 years in state service.
State Senator Jeane Forrester (R-Meredith) spoke at Railroad Promotion and Marketing Day and praised Burton for his many years of service, in particular to the North Country, and announced that she will introduce legislation to name the overlook with views of Mount Washington in honor of Burton.
''He had a big hand in many important things that have happened in the state and had a strong commitment to the whole district, especially the North Country, '' Forrester.
Mike Cryens of Hanover, who has served 18 years as a Grafton County Commissioner with Burton, said that the county will name the site of the old Grafton County Jail, which was recently torn down from its location on a scenic bluff, will be renamed Ray Burton Park in honor of the long-time North Country political leader.
''He was a dedicated public servant who was always upbeat and positive,'' said Cryens, who drew a big laugh from the crowd with his story about Burton.
''It seems that a young reporter went up to Ray after Bernie Steeter had retired and asked him how it felt to be the dean of the Executive Council. Ray took him over to a map and pointed out how large his Executive Council district was and asked 'why would I want to be known as Dean of the Executive Council when I'm already King of the North Country?' ''.
Lyman Cousens, who worked with Burton to promote railroad safety for many years, said that all passengers on the Hobo and Winnipesaukee Scenic Railroad trip would receive a commemorative mug honoring Burton's work.
Ben Clark, president of the Hobo and Winnipesaukee Scenic Railroad, said that Railroad Promotion and Marketing Day will continue to be a tradition after Burton leaves office and that Burton will forever be remembered for his service to those who live in the North Country.
State Senator Jeane Forrester (R-Meredith) speaks at Railroad Promotion and Marketing Day at the Meredith Railroad station Saturday. The annual event, which was started by Executive Councilor Ray Burton, who recently announced that he will not run for re-election due to a re-occurrence of kidney cancer, drew about 200 people who rode on the Hobo and Winnipesaukee Scenic Railroad to Plymouth and back. Forrester announced that she will introduce legislation to name an overlook with views of Mount Washington in honor of Burton. (Roger Amsden photo for the Laconia Daily Sun)