PORTSMOUTH — A couple of seats have opened up down front at Portsmouth Town Council meetings going forward. Richard and Priscilla Wimpress will no longer be there.
The couple is re-locating to Minnesota, where one of their daughters, Becky Wimpress Gernes, lives with her husband. They hit the road on Friday.
“It’s not cold enough here,” joked Mr. Wimpress, who submitted his resignation from the Planning Board, Glen Manor House Authority and the Elmhurst Committee Monday night.
The council honored the Wimpresses and many other hard-working volunteers with proclamations and some “goodies” Monday night during a standing-room-only ceremony that kicked off the proceedings with a succession of standing ovations.
The Wimpresses were saluted for their years of public service as members of the Glen Manor House Authority, of which Mr. Wimpress was a longtime chairman. He was also instrumental in founding the Friends of The Glen Manor House, with the two groups working to preserve the historic property for the town’s future generations.
“Dick’s commitment to our community and his dedication to the Manor House is evidenced by the continued restoration of the beautiful structure that is know as the Glen Manor House,” stated Council President James Seveney in reading the proclamation.
Mrs. Wimpress received plaudits for also serving on the Town Center Project Committee and the Portsmouth Arts and Culture Committee. “Her commitment to the arts has been admirable, her theater works as well as her work with the Arts and Culture Committee and the Portsmouth Arts Guild has been a welcome addition to the cultural makeup of the Town of Portsmouth,” Mr. Seveney said in reading the proclamation.
“When I came to Portsmouth, there was no arts here — none at all. So Cindy Killavey and I started the Portsmouth Community Theater,” Mrs. Wimpress said.
Her husband thanked everyone for the support they’ve received over the years. “We’re tried to help make Portsmouth the community that everyone wants to live in,” said Mr. Wimpress.
Although they’ll be Minnesotans by the weekend, the Wimpresses say they’ll still visit Portsmouth occasionally to visit their other daughter, Kathleen Wimpress Geasey.
Their daughter Becky’s husband has a boat, and Mrs. Wimpress is trying to convince him to take them on the Great Loop — a 5,000-plus-mile circumnavigation of Eastern North America — back to Portsmouth. “We could tie up in Newport,” she said.
“I’m not sure we’re part of the Great Loop,” Becky said.
“Can we make it part of the Loop?” replied her mom.
‘Portsmouth Award’ debuts
Also Monday night, the council announced the recipients of the first-ever “Portsmouth Award,” which is chosen by the council president, chairman of the School Committee, the superintendent of schools and town administrator.
“We needed some way to recognize someone or some group who really goes above and beyond,” said Mr. Seveney.
The first recipient of the award — the Portsmouth 375th Steering Committee — was a unanimous choice, he said. The committee exhibited great organizational skills in coordinating the many special events that were staged throughout 2013 as part of the town’s 375th anniversary celebration, Mr. Seveney said.
“This was really a momentous task,” he said.
Members of the 375th Steering Committee honored were Esmond “Doug” Smith, Gary Gump, Debra Correia, Roberta Stevens, Robert Hamilton, Emil Cipolla, Joan Eline, Lori Clark, George Wardwell, Jane Roggero, Dennis Chandler, Carolyn Magnus, Richard Talipsky, Katherine Gagliano, David Croston, John Klimm, Jody Sullivan, James Garman, Robert Edenbach, Gloria Schmidt, Michael Paglierani, Nancy Parker Wilson, Carlton Johnson, The Rev. Mike Pike and Rose Escobar.
“You all worked well over a year to make a huge celebration for the town. You certainly established a template and benchmark for Newport,” said Mr. Seveney, referring to the city’s 375th birthday this year.
Everyone was presented with a Portsmouth plaque and commemorative coin, which the town just had made up. (The Wimpresses received them, too.)
“In the old days they were called challenge coins,” said Mr. Seveney, noting that they were handed out to prove membership. “People would challenge you in a bar to see if you had one. And if you didn’t, you were buying.”
“I like that tradition, guys,” replied Mr. Smith.
The recognition ceremony ended with another hand and standing ovation for dairy farmer Louis Escobar, who served as the grand marshall in the Portsmouth 375th Labor Day parade.