By Carley Dangona
AGAWAM – The town hosted a weekend inauguration ceremony for its officials which recognized School Committee member Roberta Doering for her years of service to the town.
On Jan. 5, the town formally welcomed its newly elected officials at the Roberta G. Doering School, including Doering and City Councilor Donald Rheault who were recognized as the longest serving members of their perspective positions.
Mayor Richard Cohen, City Councilors Christopher Johnson, Dennis Perry, George Bitzas, Cecilia Calabrese, Paul Cavallo, James Cichetti, Gina Letellier, Joseph Mineo, Donald Rheault, Robert Rossi and Anthony Suffriti and School Committee members Anthony Bonavita, Roberta Doering, Diane Juzba, Carmino Mineo, Shelley Reed and Wendy Rua were also sworn into office.
“I’m forever grateful to the voters of Agawam that have enabled me to do this,” Doering said. “The lives of our children are the most important thing that we can do. They are going to be sitting where you are and where our police and fire are.” She closed by reminding everyone to get their exercise.
Town Clerk Richard Theroux shared a story about Doering when she first joined the School Committee as its only female member. He said, “One of the men said to her at one of the first meetings, ‘We’re so glad you’re here; you can make coffee for us when the secretary’s not in.’ Mrs. Doering replied to them, ‘That’ll be fine, I’ll take my turn like everyone else.’”
Police Chief Eric Gillis was officially sworn in at the event as well. He succeeded long-time Chief Robert Campbell who retired at the beginning of this year.
During his inaugural address, Cohen said, “When I sat down to scratch out some words of what I would say today, before I began I realized that I’m not as prolific as [former Presidents] Ronald Regan or Bill Clinton. I also realized that I was not as intelligent as Socrates [was]. But, what I did realize as I gave a lot of thought to what I say was that my mind and my heart were easier to put into words because of the passion and commitment and caring that I have for all of you, our citizens of Agawam.”
Addressing all elected officials, the mayor said, “We all share a huge responsibility to do what’s best for the city as a whole. It is my hope that myself and all of our elected officials and all of you can work together in harmony.”
He added, “We’ve been entrusted by our citizens to listen to their needs and to make the right decisions in the years ahead.”
At its organizational meeting on Jan. 5, the City Council elected Johnson as its president and Perry as its vice president.