D’Avignon to leave Weybridge board after three decades
WEYBRIDGE — It was 1982, and Jim D’Avignon Sr. thought the time was right for him to spend a little less time under the hoods of vehicles at the family business, the Weybridge Garage, in order to give back to his community as member of the town selectboard.
D’Avignon was elected that year, unopposed, to a seat held until then by Levi Austin. D’Avignon immediately took to the job and thought he’d spend around a dozen years at it. But a dozen years soon turned into two dozen. Now, 30 years after joining the board, D’Avignon has announced he will not run for re-election this March.
“I thought 30 years was enough,” D’Avignon said on Wednesday during an interview in the Morgan Horse Farm Road home where he was born almost 75 years ago. “It’s time to get some new blood in there.”
D’Avignon will step down from the board with a sense of accomplishment. Right after his election in 1982, the town built a new fire station and highway garage that continues to provide good service. D’Avignon helped clear the land off Quaker Village Road on which the building sits. Three years ago, the town added a new sand and salt shed on the property.
“I think we have done a lot (during the past 30 years),” D’Avignon said.
The accomplishments that stand out for D’Avignon largely revolve around local road and bridge projects. The town has replaced multiple bridges and rebuilt several roads during the past three decades. Weybridge was most recently involved with a major, $300,000 rehabilitation of James Road, noted D’Avignon.
He has witnessed a lot of changes in how town business is conducted. Most everything was recorded and written down on paper when D’Avignon joined the board. Computers, microfilm and e-mail have now taken over while state regulations have become more abundant. D’Avignon credited longtime Weybridge Town Clerk Karen Brisson for deftly handling the board’s administrative chores.
Fellow town officials said they will miss D’Avignon’s congenial personality and good input on issues that have come before the board over the years. Being a lifelong resident, he has a lengthy institutional memory about the town and past actions taken by the board. D’Avignon, for instance, vividly recalls the other personalities on the selectboard when he was first elected in 1982 (Paul Denis, Ralph Piper, John Perkins and Ronnie Adams).
“He will be missed,” said Selectwoman Gale Hurd, who quipped that she is the “newest recruit” on the board with almost 13 years of service.
Hurd said D’Avignon’s responsibilities have included dutifully keeping track of the bills and invoices the board receives from vendors.
“He’s been great to work with over the years,” Hurd said. “He is a very thoughtful, intelligent selectboard member.”
While he will be leaving the board, D’Avignon stressed he will continue to be an active citizen. He is particularly concerned about the future of Weybridge Elementary School, which — like schools throughout the state — is going through a period of declining enrollment. Local school officials are estimating a student body of around 40 for next year. D’Avignon believes the school will not be sustainable if the student numbers continue to drop. He said the town should consider combining its students with a neighboring school district.
“Something has got to be done no later than next year,” D’Avignon said, suggesting the Weybridge town clerk’s office could be moved to the school if it were vacated.
Asked what he will do with his new spare time, D’Avignon said he will continue to help out at the Weybridge Garage, now operated by his son Jim Jr. One of D’Avignon’s grandsons, Jay, also works at the garage, the fourth generation of the family to have been employed there. Jim Sr. bought the business from his dad in 1967.
“I supposedly retired in 2002, but I can’t sit still,” D’Avignon said with a smile.
He’ll be able to spend more time with his wife, Patricia, with whom he travels to Florida for a few months each year. He will miss his work on the board and the people with whom he has served.
“It has been a good 30 years,” D’Avignon said.
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected]
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