Lincoln leaders take oath of office

Lincoln leaders take oath of office

A swearing in ceremony was held on Tuesday night at Lincoln Middle School. Judge William E. Carnes Jr., associate justice of the R.I. Superior Court, left, swears in T. Joseph Almond as Lincoln town administrator as his wife holds the Bible. Son Joseph C. Almond is at right. (Breeze photos by Robert Emerson)
Goho is school board chairman, Macksoud council president

LINCOLN – When Town Administrator T. Joseph Almond first raised his right hand and took the oath of office, he said he never imagined his public service would extend for more than a decade. Twelve years later, Almond returned to the stage on Tuesday evening to make the same simple pledge he made in 2007: to serve the people of Lincoln to the best of his abilities.

Joining Almond on the stage of the Lincoln Middle School auditorium were newcomers Pamela Azar, sworn in to the council, William McManus, taking the oath for School Committee, and Edward Sliney, sworn in to the Water Commission.

After Tuesday’s inauguration, the School Committee met for an organizational meeting, the committee electing Joseph Goho as chairman. Kristine Donabedian passed leadership position off to Goho after serving in the role for the past six years.

Donabedian told The Breeze that she always believed the role of chairperson should “rotate amongst those committee members who are capable and willing to serve as such,” nominating Goho “because he has demonstrated both the capability and willingness, and I believe the district will thrive under his leadership.”

Goho said Donabedian has been the “consummate leader for our schools’ governing body to function at a high level of harmony and effectiveness,” leading the school board with “class, intellect, professionalism and preparedness for the last six years.”

Goho, who was recently appointed North Providence superintendent, said his goal as chairman of the committee is “to work respectfully with all elected officials to ensure continued educational excellence for our students, provided in the most transparent and fiscally responsible manner for taxpayers.”

School Committee member John Picozzi, of District 2, was elected clerk, stepping into the position previously held by Staci Rapko Bruckner, who was also sworn in to another term on the committee this week.

The Town Council also convened for an organizational meeting Tuesday, again choosing Keith Macksoud as president. Arthur Russo Jr. was selected to serve as vice president in place of James Jahnz, who did not run for re-election this year.

Macksoud, in his inaugural address, said being a member of Lincoln’s council means being part of a winning team, “where each member brings their own unique skills, perspectives, experiences and opinions to the table,” with the shared goal of enhancing the lives of Lincoln residents.

He said 2018 was a challenging year, especially overseeing the construction and renovation of Lincoln High School, but noted that the town’s “proper conservative financial planning in previous years” allowed leaders to use funds set aside from Twin River Casino to help pay for necessary components of the project.

Macksoud also acknowledged Administrator Almond.

“Unlike other communities that have a very contentious relationship between the council and their chief executive officer, our council works in collaboration with the administrator,” he said. “We don’t always agree, which is normal, but what we do is we have rational discussions and debates that lead to a resolution, that benefit the town.”

Almond acknowledged the contentiousness in Lincoln’s municipal leadership when he first took office.

“Back then, while I recognized the many great assets and opportunities the town had to offer, the most pressing challenge we faced was the ongoing destructive and petty political discourse harming our community,” he said.

“Looking to restore respect and dignity to town government, I was truly fortunate to work with elected officials – many behind me now – who, despite their political affiliations and despite their disagreements, have always come together in sensible compromise or voiced they their dissent respectfully and constructively. As a result, I think we have a great story to tell tonight.”

Among the accomplishments achieved over his tenure, Almond noted the town’s $38 million in capital improvement projects, including renovating the town’s police headquarters and public library; as well as building a new senior center, fixing and securing school facilities and expanding open space and recreation areas to preserve roughly 28 percent of the town’s land mass.

“We have also achieved 12 years of balanced budgets, maintained a significant surplus fund balance, and received excellent and upgraded bond ratings,” Almond said. “We continue to experience robust, but responsible expansion of our commercial tax base – now account to 37-38 percent of tax levy.”

“Looking ahead, I am excited that we have undertaken our largest capital project to date, the new sixty million dollar construction and renovation of our high school campus. This will provide a great asset to our community and students, as well as, financial stability to taxpayers for many decades to come,” he said.

Tuesday’s ceremony was presided over by Reginald Packer, with an invocation by retired Rev. Joseph Haggar of St. Basil the Great and processional led by the Lincoln Police, Fire and Rescue Honor Guards. The Pledge of Allegiance was recited by the Boy Scouts of Troop 64 Saylesville, while Joseph Petteruti and Joseph C. Almond sang the national anthem, with additional performances by the Lincoln High School Band.

Additional greetings and congratulations were brought on behalf of the state from newly elected Rep. Jack Lyle, who was in attendance along with Rep. Mia Ackerman and Sen. Thomas Paolino.

Judge William E. Carnes Jr., left, swears in members of the Lincoln Town Council during inuaguration ceremonies. From left, are Caries, Arthur T. Russo Jr., Bruce J. Ogni, Keith E. Macksoud, Pamela Azar and Kenneth G. Pichette.