The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, November 26, 2010


Assistant Town Clerk Irene Blake retires


Irene Blake behind the counter at Town Hall. (Photo by Rik Pierce)

Monday, November 15, was Irene Blake’s last day at Town Hall. Blake has been a familiar face in the Town Clerk’s office since she started answering the telephone there in 1991 when then Town Clerk Sarah Andreassen was away at Town Clerk conferences. Those were the days when the Town Hall was located on Bedford Road, in the front section of the Gleason Public Library. “We were crowded into a large room that we shared with the Town Treasurer, the Building Inspector, the assessors and Town Administrator Teno West. Also housed in that front section of the library at that time, but not in the Town Hall area, was the Carlisle Police Department.”

In 1996, the present Town Hall on Westford Street was built. ”We had more room there, but it was still crowded, and is still crowded today,” said Blake. “There is little storage area and the building has no cellar.”

Blake has always worked part-time. She was originally hired as the Town Clerk’s Assistant, but in 2003, as Town Clerk Andreassen’s health was failing, Blake was named Assistant Town Clerk, so she could sign documents. She has held both titles since that time.

To insure a smooth transition to Andreassen’s successor, Blake put in extra hours on the job. Charlene Hinton, who was appointed to the office by the selectmen and would soon be elected to the office, recalls “The selectmen told me to meet with Irene so I could understand what it was like to be a Town Clerk. It took two or three days for her to patiently show me the many tasks that were involved,” laughed Hinton. “She never wanted the job for herself, but she was always there, supportive and willing to help me out. On every election night, she won’t leave for home until I do. This year it was close to 2a.m.”

Asked about the changes that took place when her office moved to the new Town Hall, Blake said that the biggest change was becoming more computerized. “We were much more efficient and accessible to townspeople,” recalled Blake. Her duties included answering the phone, registering and deleting voter’s names, doing the yearly census, issuing dog licenses, checking out names and signatures on nomination petitions, as well as just keeping up with the Town Clerk’s records that go into the Annual Town Report at the end of each year.

What are you going to miss about the job? I asked Blake. “I enjoy the people who come to the desk or call in with questions,” replied Blake. “We try to do our best in answering their questions,” she added. “Most people are really nice; others are just confused, like when someone calls in to ask ‘when is the town going to turn my water back on’ or ‘when will the town pick up my trash?’”

What are Blake’s plans for retirement? “I want to build a retirement life with my husband [Wayne] who retired in July. I have talked to other women who retired when their husbands retired and it works out well for them,” reported Blake. “I want to spend time with my children [David, owner of the Prise de Fer Fencing School in Billerica, Fencing Coach at CCHS, and national and international fencing referee, and Adam who lives in New Hampshire and works for a company that provides accounting software for realtors]. “I have no grand plans,” explained Blake. “I want to stay in Carlisle. I don’t know what we are going to do, but ask me in a year,” she continued. “I’ll volunteer at election time and during Town Meeting, and I’ll stay involved with my church, the Congregational Church in Carlisle.”

Maybe now Blake and her husband will have more time to go sailing in their Catboat out of the Boston Yacht Club in Marblehead. This is where their neighbors for the past 40 years on Lowell Street, the Hiltons and the Turners, also belong and sail, and where they enjoy sharing breakfast together in the summertime. And possibly, Blake will have more time now to write an occasional article for Carlisle Comments in the Mosquito, as she has in the past. ∆

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