Burrillville council honors Cardon, names Coutu trustee emeritus for Jesse Smith

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BURRILLVILLE – In a brief ceremony Wednesday night, members of the Burrillville Town Council thanked resident Aaron Coutu for his service to the town, naming him trustee emeritus of Jesse Smith Memorial Library, while also acknowledging and honoring a longtime School Committee member who recently resigned after more than 20 years of service.

Coutu has served the town of Burrillville in various capacities over the past 18 years, beginning in 2003, when he was appointed to the Juvenile Hearing Board, on which he served as both member and chairperson. He joined the Burrillville School Committee in 2011, and helped to found the Anti-Bullying Task Force.

Coutu served on the Library Capital Campaign Committee in 2006; the Charter Review Commission in 2009; and was appointed to Recreation Committee in 2013, eventually serving as chairperson. He has twice been named to the Jesse Smith Library Board of Trustees, where he also served as chairperson.

Councilors unanimously approved a proclamation naming Coutu trustee emeritus of the library in a meeting attended by both staff and supporters of the facility.  

The meeting on Wednesday, Dec. 8 also included approval of a proclamation honoring Dorothy Cardon, a longtime member of the Burrillville School Committee who resigned in October citing health concerns. In November, Jill Calapai was appointed to fill her seat on the board.

“I think everyone knows in the community and on the council the kind of person she (is,)” said Supt. Michael Sollitto. “In my four years here as superintendent, she was always the person who brought things back to what it was about – and that’s the kids.”

“Her only concern was that she was doing and the committee was doing what’s best for kids all the time,” Sollitto added. “She would always kind of reel us in if we were getting off track a little bit.”

Cardon raised five children in Burrillville with her husband of 58 years, Rene Cardon, along with eight other children the couple took into their home, according to the proclamation. She and Rene owned and operated Lucky Peers Sports Shop and she was elected to the committee in 2001. She was also an active member of the Burrillville Lions Club over the past several decades, serving as president as well as district governor. In 2005, she was named recipient of the club’s Melvin Jones Award.

The proclamation honoring Cardon’s public service was read jointly by School Committee Chairperson Alexandra LeClair and Town Council President Donald Fox.

“She’s been a mentor throughout all of my tenure,” said LeClair. “I just want to thank her for her wisdom, her gentle nature, her calming aura. It’s a huge loss.”

“There have been many accomplishments in Dot’s tenure,” noted Fox, including receipt of more than $1 million in grants; establishment of the Burrillville Prevention Action Coalition and the Northwest School Consortorium; approval of Career and Technical Education programs; negotiation of contracts with the Burrillville Teacher’s Association; athletic achievements and the implementation of 1 to 1 Chromebooks.  

Councilor Dennis Anderson said he first got know Cardon serving ham, bean and spaggeti dinners at Burrillville Methodist Church.

“I quickly became her helper,” Anderson said. “If you don’t know, she’s a fantastic cook.”

Councilor Raymond Trinque noted that he served with her on the School Committee for 15 years.

“She adopted the students of the Burrillville School System as her kids,” Trinque said. “She was proud of them. She was willing to fight for them.” 

Cardon was not present for passage of the proclamation, but Fox noted that he would make sure she received a copy.

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