BELMONT — Selectmen and the Belmont Heritage Commission presented Community Heritage Awards to three people at Monday night's meeting of selectmen.
Recipients cited for making lasting contributions to the community's quality of life included Jennifer Shaw (Educator and Cultural Ambassador), Earl Sweeney (Exemplary Leadership) and Wallace Rhodes (Town Historian Emeritus).
The awards were part of the celebration of New Hampshire History Week, held October 19-25.
Monday was a banner day for Heritage Commission preservation efforts. Prior to the selectmen's meeting the comission hosted State Senator Jeanie Forrester, a Legislative member of the Land and Community Heritage Investment Program (LCHIP) Board of Directors and New Hampshire Preservation Alliance exceutive director Jennifer Goodman for a site visit to the restored Village Bandstand.
Senator Forrester presented and helped unveil a plaque for the structure, which received major community support and a challenge grant from LCHIP for its full rehabilitation. NHPA's Goodman congratulated the group along with restoration contractor JR Graton and historic painting specialist John Thompson for their outstanding preservation project. Earlier this year the NHPA honored the project with the Elizabeth Durfee Hengen Award for achievement.
The awards at the seletmen's meeting were presented by Linda Frawley of the Heritage Commission.
She said that Shaw was part of the inspiration for saving that 1908 structure and that for the past 13 of her nearly 30 years teaching, Shaw has introduced Belmont's children to music as Belmont Elementary School chorus teacher.
Shaw has been active in a number of Lakes Region performing groups and has followed several of her students' careers as they continued as performers at Belmont High School, where she has helped with the BHS musicals for the past three years.
Her Belmont Elementary students number over 450 and there are over 150 3rd and 4th graders in that school's performance groups. Those BES students have "hit the road" more than a few times since 2003 in more than 40 free community and public performances.
Sweeney walked his first beat as a law enforcement officer for Belmont in 1957 and was promoted to Sergeant in 1960 and named Chief of Police in 1961. He has served as Deputy Commissioner, Acting Commissioner and Assistant Commissioner in the New Hamshire Department of Safety. As Director of the NH Police Standards and Training Council he set the highest standards in communications education and ethics – for police and corrections, probation-parole trainees and even part time law enforcement officials.
His reputation and management effectiveness, resulted in calls for further service as Acting Commissioner of the NH State Liquor Commission and a non-salaried role as Chairman of the state's Board of Parole. As an author and editor, Commissioner-Chief Sweeney has contributed to magazines, journals, training guides and articles – from the FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin to treatises on "Law Enforcement in the 21st Century" and "Standards for Police Training Organizations.''
Frawley said that Rhodes served 32 years in the New Hamphire Banking Department as senior examiner and manager. A Belmont native, his collection and identification of vintage local photos showed his predisposition for local history started quite young. A winter photo of children sledding in front of the Gale School was confirmed as 1952, because, he explained "I was in school then and took it."
Rhodes contributed both time and financial support to the Belmont Mill as both organizer and benefactor of the Belmont Library, Province Road Meeting House and the Belmont Historical Society. Over recent years, he built a home close by the Village on Church Hill, across the road from his maternal grandparents (the Fred Piper family) – and next to the Highland Cemetery and Belmont Baptist Church.
''Some years ago the Church asked to purchase the land to build a school and day care facility for children. Wallace obliged quietly, without any public awareness by donating the land they needed.'' said Frawley.
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