Former councilor, longtime public servant Binns dies at age 75; flags lowered in Burrillville

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BURRILLVILLE – A woman whose dedication to public service spanned several decades, and has been recognized with numerous awards and honors, died this week at the age of 75.

Flags at town buildings in Burrillville will be flown at half mast to honor Nancy Binns, who died on Tuesday, July 5.

Binns, a Pascoag resident, was an active member of the Berean Baptist Church for some 30 years, and a member of the Burrillville Town Council for 12. She was named council president in 2006, a position she held for eight years.

As council president she served as a member or liaison with the Downtown Pascoag Neighborhood Association; the Zoning Board; the Ordinance Subcommittee; the School Committee; the Senior Center Feasibility Study Committee; the Administrative Audit Committee and the Sewer Commission.

“I am privileged to have served with Nancy for my first two years on Town Council,” said current Council President Donald Fox this week. “I got onto the Town Council in 2014 as she was serving the last two years of her final term. I sat next to her and was able to learn quite a bit. Though we came from different political parties, we shared so much in common when it comes to doing what is right in public service for this community.” 

Binns also led the Jesse Smith Library construction project, drove forward major upgrades to the Burrillville Police station which included building the Municipal Court Room and community room, led renovations to the Levy Rink, the school administration building, the Spring Lake Beach facility, lighting at Hauser Field and was instrumental in the creation of Hero Park. 

“Nancy Binns spent and dedicated an incredible amount of time to her public service,” said Fox. 

“When I first became Town Council president, I asked Nancy if she would sit with me to chat about the role,” he added. “I did not fully know then what to expect. Thankfully for me, she spent some of her time again and sat down with me. If I had a question after that, she would pick up the phone and spend more of that time with me.” 

“She had nothing to gain helping me, but that was what struck me about Nancy Binns from when I first got to know her – she did not do things for personal gain and that is what local public service is all about,” Fox said. “She did things to give back to her community, in so many ways, for many long years.”

A graduate from Smith College, Binns also established the Pascoag Dam Management Association, the Burrillville Extended Care Program and the Rubbish and Recycling Committees.

She received the Burrillville Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the Year award in 1980, which she shared with her father George. In 2017, she was named a Partner in Faith by the Rhode Island Council of Churches.

Councilor Raymond Trinque, who also serves as commander for Berard Desjarlais American Legion Post 88, described Binns as a “great friend,” to the post, noting the group’s Chapel Street headquarters was named after her father.

Binns was recognized by Post 88 in 2019.

In 2019, the Binns received the post’s highest civilian honor, the Blanchard Mccutchen Award.

Binns was also one of two recipients of the Burrillville Police Department’s Lees Award for 2020, and at the time, Col. Stephen Lynch noted that she also served for 15 years with the Burrillville Ambulance Corps., with a career that included delivering a baby on the side of a road.

“In Burrillville she modernized tax credits for the disabled, seniors and veterans in this community for more effective benefits to those most in need,” Lynch was quoted as saying at the ceremony. “She wanted nothing but the best for Burrillville’s school system and was known for her tireless work ethic and get it done mantra on so many difficult projects and negotiations.”

Town flags will remain lowered through Wednesday, July 13 in Binns’s honor.

Fox noted Binns will be sorely missed, but also fondly remembered for all that she did for her community. 

“We will be able to speak about her accomplishments in the days to come, but her example of giving is something that I think of often when I consider the time spent doing public service,” he said. “She set a high standard for the role and one that I will continue to aspire to.”

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