Warm welcome for Naples town secretary

Naples Town Secretary Harriet Condon stands in front of the Village Green on Monday afternoon. Condon was hired last month as town secretary. Previously, she worked for the Town of Southington, Conn., for 15 years. (De Busk Photo)

Naples Town Secretary Harriet Condon stands in front of the Village Green on Monday afternoon. Condon was hired last month as town secretary. Previously, she worked for the Town of Southington, Conn., for 15 years. (De Busk Photo)

By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

NAPLES — Lately, Harriet Condon has received a lot of heartfelt handshakes from area Mainers.

She has met so many community members, including those people serving on local committees and boards.

Condon is being introduced to people as the new Naples Town Secretary.

After 15 years of municipal experience in Southington, Conn., Condon said the transition to this much smaller municipality in Southern Maine has been a fairly smooth one.

“I find that the people we serve are so friendly and positive,” Condon said, adding, “Mainers have a friendly nature.”

She should know.

Condon “grew up on a potato farm in Presque Isle and moved to Mass. soon after having graduated from high school. While living out-of-state, I missed the friendliness that Mainers have,” she said.

“Later, during my years in Conn., I got a little homesick for the open fields and the big skies of Aroostook, and began painting oil paintings of the potato fields back home,” she said.

“It is great to now be living back in my home state,” she said.

Condon’s career started out as a reporter covering town meetings. She worked as a news correspondent for the New Britain Herald and The Observer, and her beats also included human interest stories.

“As a reporter, I first got interested in the running of a town. When I went from reporting on town issues to being a town employee in Conn., I knew everyone already. So, it was an easy transition,” she said.

“I began by working in a busy town clerk’s office, serving a population of just over 40,000,” she said.

“I like seeing how a town runs. I didn’t know it was going to pull me in as strongly as it did in Southington,” she said.

“When you find something you like, you stay,” she said.

During her municipal career at the Southington Public Library, Condon “was in charge of balancing an over $1,000,000 budget and helping to keep the facility running smoothly. I became the go-to person for the 22-person library staff. I sometimes had to make some hard decisions while maintaining good working relationships,” she said.

At one point the library’s acting director stepped down, and Condon’s duties stepped up while the vacancy was being filled.

“I managed my regular tasks while doing everything from scheduling temporary help to keeping an eye on the municipal budget, from scheduling building repairs to (assisting with) FBI investigations of public computers,” she said.

Compared to Southington, Naples has a year round population of about 3,800. Still, the workload in the town office is sizable, she said.

“In Southington, there were four people in the office and a town clerk. Here, there are three people plus the town secretary,” she said.

Her job duties will include assisting the code enforcement officer and the town manager.

“They don’t register motor vehicles in Conn. — not at the town level.

It is just new for me here — how they do it in Maine. It’ll be an easy transition, because I love working with the public,” Condon said.

In an interesting swap of workplaces and residencies, former Town Secretary Barbara Beckwith closed on a home in Naples at roughly the same time that she accepted a job with the Town of Gray. Meanwhile, Condon and her new husband purchased a home in Gray in late 2012, and five months later she was selected for the position with the Town of Naples.

Condon started her employment in Naples on April 30.

“Although I am a Maine native, I had never been to Naples. When I first visited, I was pleasantly surprised at its beauty. I can tell that I am going to enjoy working in this wonderful town,” she said.

“The atmosphere is wonderful here. The people contact with Naples citizens is enjoyable,” she said.

“And, it doesn’t hurt to look out at the scenery,” Condon said.

“It even makes me want to paint because I love painting skies,” she said, glancing up at the billowing white clouds that gathered above Long Lake.

In her spare time, Condon likes to do oil painting, an art medium that she learned in 2005. While the potato picking fields tops her list of favorite subjects, her paint brush has brought to life the scenery of Maine’s apple orchards.

She recalled the potato harvest in Aroostook County in which the school closed to allow the children to participate along with much of the community.

“There is so much romance in remembering potato picking because of the falls colors and the friendships we made,” she said.

 

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