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Tenney leaves his mark on Antrim

  • Eric Tenney, standing, addresses the crowd at Antrim's Town Meeting on March 14. <br/><br/>(Staff photo by Brandon Lawrence)

    Eric Tenney, standing, addresses the crowd at Antrim's Town Meeting on March 14.

    (Staff photo by Brandon Lawrence) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Antrim voters applaud Select Board member Eric Tenney, who is stepping down this year, for his many years of service.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Brandon Lawrence)

    Antrim voters applaud Select Board member Eric Tenney, who is stepping down this year, for his many years of service.

    (Staff photo by Brandon Lawrence) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Eric Tenney, standing, shows off the annual Town Report to the Town Meeting audience on March 14. The cover depicts the reconstructed Civil War statue in front of the Baptist Church that Tenney prioritized as a member of the Select Board.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Brandon Lawrence)

    Eric Tenney, standing, shows off the annual Town Report to the Town Meeting audience on March 14. The cover depicts the reconstructed Civil War statue in front of the Baptist Church that Tenney prioritized as a member of the Select Board.

    (Staff photo by Brandon Lawrence) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Eric Tenney, standing, holds up a copy of the annual Town Report that depicts the reconstructed Civil War statue he prioritized as a Selectman.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Brandon Lawrence)

    Eric Tenney, standing, holds up a copy of the annual Town Report that depicts the reconstructed Civil War statue he prioritized as a Selectman.

    (Staff photo by Brandon Lawrence) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Eric Tenney, middle, is congratulated by co-Select Board member Mike Genest at the culmination of Antrim's Town Meeting on March 14 at the Antrim Town Gym.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Brandon Lawrence)

    Eric Tenney, middle, is congratulated by co-Select Board member Mike Genest at the culmination of Antrim's Town Meeting on March 14 at the Antrim Town Gym.

    (Staff photo by Brandon Lawrence) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Eric Tenney, standing, addresses the crowd at Antrim's Town Meeting on March 14. <br/><br/>(Staff photo by Brandon Lawrence)
  • Antrim voters applaud Select Board member Eric Tenney, who is stepping down this year, for his many years of service.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Brandon Lawrence)
  • Eric Tenney, standing, shows off the annual Town Report to the Town Meeting audience on March 14. The cover depicts the reconstructed Civil War statue in front of the Baptist Church that Tenney prioritized as a member of the Select Board.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Brandon Lawrence)
  • Eric Tenney, standing, holds up a copy of the annual Town Report that depicts the reconstructed Civil War statue he prioritized as a Selectman.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Brandon Lawrence)
  • Eric Tenney, middle, is congratulated by co-Select Board member Mike Genest at the culmination of Antrim's Town Meeting on March 14 at the Antrim Town Gym.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Brandon Lawrence)

ANTRIM – Former Select Board Chair Eric Tenney, a fixture in Antrim politics since the mid-1970s, says he has sat in front of his last Town Meeting, and that he’ll take on a reduced role in the town.

Tenney decided not to run for re-election after his third full term on the Select Board came to an end, and voters elected former Select Board member Gordon Webber as Tenney’s replacement.

Tenney did, however, run unopposed for a position on the Budget Advisory Committee. But the commitment, he said, isn’t nearly as great as being on the Select Board.

The meeting on March 14 was the 11th time Tenney has sat in front of Town Meeting — nine times as a full member of the Select Board. The other times he filled in after being asked to do so. He made it clear in a phone interview Saturday that he would not be sitting up front at Town Meeting again.

“I’m not planning on running ever again, that’s for sure,” Tenney said. “It’s not on the agenda, anyway.”

Tenney began his involvement in town politics in 1975 when he served on the original Zoning Board of Adjustment.

He then spent 15 years as part of the town’s Water and Sewer Commission, and filled in from time to time on the Planning Board before moving to the Select Board.

Among Tenney’s accomplishments as a town official is the standpipe on Pleasant Street that provides pressurized water to a large population in Antrim. He said that he and Antrim resident Ben Pratt were behind getting that passed. Both Tenney and Pratt served as original members on the town’s Water and Sewer Commission.

Pratt said in a phone interview Monday that the two were instrumental in switching the town’s water supply from Campbell Pond to a gravel-packed well in north Bennington, which is the current water system.

“I’ve worked with Eric for a great many years,” Pratt said. “It’s been an enjoyable, productive, satisfying relationship. We didn’t always agree, but when we did disagree we did so rationally and resolved it.”

But after so many years of service to the town, Tenney said his two greatest accomplishments came as recently as this year.

To him, the first and most profound impact he has made on the town was his role in getting residents to the polls on March 12 to vote “No” on School Board Article 8, which would have closed Great Brook School.

“The accomplishment isn’t necessarily the fact that we got the petition shot down, but rather we got people out to vote in town,” Tenney said.

Last year, more than 500 registered voters in Antrim came to the polls on voting day. This year, because of Tenney, the Antrim Select Board and the efforts of community advocates for keeping the middle school open, the number of voters grew to 890 people — 47 percent of registered voters in Antrim.

“The Selectmen were behind voting ‘No’ all the way,” Tenney said. “That’s what drove me last year. The point of it all was the effort we put in to get people out to vote.”

The second of Tenney’s greatest personal accomplishments was his effort to get the Civil War statue in Antrim’s town center restored and returned to the front of the Baptist Church. Tenney said he doubts many residents now care too much about the statue, but he hopes future generations will look at it as a memorial from the past.

“He cares so much about the town and the future of the town,” Pratt said.

Going forward, Tenney said he thinks the Select Board will do just fine without him. “But you notice who’s on the Budget Advisory Committee,” he laughed.

As an offer of some advice, Tenney said that you can learn something from anybody, no matter who it is, as long as you listen.

“Remember, the issue is always, ‘What is the town’s interest?’ It’s never about a single person,” he said.

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