On Sunday, the town will celebrate two of its most priceless treasures. These valuables do not sparkle like jewels, nor do they have the glimmer of gold. Their value cannot be measured in dollars and cents, but the decades of public service provided by Jean St Jean and Jim Juliano have given Newtown riches that cannot be bought.
Shepherding the borough for half a century, Ms St Jean has guided the direction of growth within the center of town, serving on the Borough Zoning Commission and Board of Appeals, as well as on the Newtown Board of Zoning Appeals. Her long years of service have provided oversight to numerous changes — and stability — in one of Newtown’s historic districts.
Mr Juliano may be best known as providing guidance to political leaders, having served as chairman of the Democratic Town Committee. He has devoted endless hours to numerous charities and organizations, though, and was recognized by the Rotary Club of Newtown with a Paul Harris Award. Mr Juliano was instrumental in seeing that the Alexandria Room of Edmond Town Hall (where the Sunday celebration takes place) was brought up to speed once again with extensive renovations.
Past years have honored other longtime residents, including the late Julia Wasserman, Mae Schmidle, Dr Tom Draper, Dr Bob Grossman, former First Selectman Joe Borst, and former Superintendent of Schools John Reed.
The efforts of those chosen for recognition go beyond any paid positions, coming from a place intended only to better the community. As well, Ms St Jean and Mr Juliano, and the others honored before them, are just the gems that top the treasure chest. Newtown’s vault of wealth is overflowing with other riches in the form of donated hours.
Volunteers fill the numerous positions on town boards and commissions, coach our children, bring food and care to neighbors, nurture and mentor young people, and eagerly take part to make townwide celebrations memorable. These are people who drop what they are doing to staff our ambulances and fire companies. The people of Newtown who give generously of their time make this an enviable community.
An image of a grimy pirate, parrot on his shoulder, and his hooked hand reaching deep into a treasure chest overflowing with golden coins and shimmering gems comes to mind; he does not own the riches we have at our doorstep. That seafarer’s smile smeared between flowing moustache and scraggly beard says, “What ho! I am the luckiest of men to have this bounty in my possession.”
It is quite the same feeling we have in Newtown when considering these treasures that abound within our community.
Mr Juliano will not be able to attend, but on Sunday, stop by the Alexandria Room between 3 and 5 pm, and take a moment to greet Ms St Jean. In thanking her for her dedication to the town, you will also be thanking all of those who selflessly contribute to our town. Let it be known that we treasure our treasures.