Accolades and admiration earned for selfless service

May 9, 2019 by

Published May 9, 2019


NORTH READING — The admiration was overflowing in the Select Board meeting room Monday night as a capacity crowd came to Town Hall to thank Bob Mauceri and Mike Prisco for their years of service and dedication to the town.

Family and friends came to visit, share stories and offer their gratitude for the accomplishments achieved by both men on behalf of the town over the years. What was initially planned to be a collation followed by 30-minute recognition extended to 90 minutes and they could have gone on longer except Prisco had a meeting to run and deadlines to meet pertaining to the June Town Meeting warrant and finalizing the FY20 municipal budget.

Serving 15 years on the Select Board, Mauceri’s service to the town dates back 47 years to 1972 when he was first appointed to the town’s Sewer Study Committee. Ironically, all these decades later he has taken a lead role in the last several years on a subcommittee assignment working to finalize the 99-water lease with Andover and now is involved in coupling this agreement with negotiations for sewer service to Lawrence via Andover.

FORTY-SEVEN YEARS of public service to the town of North Reading by Bob Mauceri was acknowledged during his final meeting of the Select Board Monday night with official recognition from Gov. Baker, the State House and the State Senate. From left, Chairman Mike Prisco, whose 15 years of service was similarly recognized; Board members Andy Schultz and Kate Manupelli, State Rep. Brad Jones Jr., Angela and Bob Mauceri, State Sen. Bruce Tarr and Board member Steve O’Leary. (Maureen Doherty Photo)

In addition, Mauceri served four elected terms on the School Committee (1973-1986); two appointed terms on the Finance Committee (1986-1992); and five appointed terms on the Hillview Commission (1992-2004) plus numerous other committees in town.

Prisco has served three elected terms on the Select Board, including as board chairman for the past three years, and served on the Recreation Committee from 2004 to 2010. He also served as the board’s representative on the Wastewater Plan Advisory Committee (2012 to present); the Economic Development Committee (2015 to present) and the Capital Improvement Planning Committee (2018 to present).

So how does a community thank two people whose combined years of service would make them eligible for Social Security? With sincerity and shared memories of riding out the storms and celebrating the victories.

Select Board Vice Chair Kate Manupelli served as the evening’s emcee, beginning with praise for Mauceri.

“We will not likely not see the likes of a public servant like Mr. Mauceri. He has represented us on boards, commissions and committees for 47 years,” Manupelli said.

Later she added that she has come to rely upon his analytical skills and his ability “to keep everybody calm and focusing on the end game.”

State Senator Bruce Tarr said the he was delighted to recognize “the incredible public service of Bob Mauceri.”

Noting Mauceri’s long history of volunteerism, Tarr said it was very clear that “you care deeply to your very core about this community…it is undeniable that you put your heart and your soul into everything you do. And that means long days, long nights, analyzing incredible amounts of numbers, facts, figures and every nuance because you care about the quality of life in this community.”

THE ‘A’ TEAM. Both Select Board Chairman Mike Prisco and Select Board member Bob Mauceri were presented with gavel plaques from board members and staff detailing their service. From left: administrative assistants Karen Marlin and Jane Brooks, Select Board members Andy Schultz and Kate Manupelli, Mike Prisco, Bob Mauceri, Steve O’Leary and Town Administrator Mike Gilleberto. (Maureen Doherty Photo)

“Forty-seven years — I don’t know about Brad (Jones) but I was about 8 years old, and even then I admired your public service,” Tarr said, adding it was obvious he had “never lost his enthusiasm for the operations of town government.”

Tarr brought a citation from both the State Senate and he and Rep. Brad Jones also obtained a certificate from Governor Baker to mark the occasion in recognition of the fact that for close to half a century Mauceri played a role in nearly every important decision that affected the town.

Rep. Jones also brought a citation from the House of Representatives and he noted that this one is personal because Mauceri is a family friend as he is also friends with Mauceri’s oldest son, Rob, having graduated together from NRHS.

“You have built a foundation in North Reading which the community will stand on for many years,” Jones said, adding, “There wasn’t a job where you didn’t roll up your sleeves, pitch in and help out. That speaks volumes about you and your willingness to serve your community.”

Mauceri’s wife, Angela, may have said it best:

“So I tried to think of what would make someone do this for 47 years. And Bob has inherited personality traits from his father. So think about it if you want to run for office: patience to deal with the public, patience to deal with team committee members, being non-judgmental; listening to both sides and working as a team on the committee… that takes precedence,” she said.

Mrs. Mauceri added that people are wondering what will he do with all this free time now that he is truly retired. “There is no real answer. I don’t know what it is and I don’t think he knows what it is. All I can say is in the words of our oldest granddaughter, when she was three and she would try to make him blow bubbles and play hopscotch, she’d say: ‘C’mon Grampy, it’ll be fun.”

Prior to the presentation, Manupelli had asked Mrs. Mauceri what she thought her husband would be most proud of and she replied “The people who have been around realize the things that he has done. But during his service on the School Committee, bringing in, with another committee member, computers to the schools. We’ve all directly benefited with the advancement of technology, not just for our students, educators and administrators but he was instrumental in moving forward for the town as well,” Manupelli said.

GREETINGS from the State House. Retiring Select Board Chairman Mike Prisco and his wife Gina (center) proudly accept the citations from Governor Charlie Baker, the State Senate and the State House of Representatives from Sen. Bruce Tarr (at left) and Rep. Brad Jones. (Maureen Doherty Photo)

“A more recent example is we have all benefited from the days, hours and weeks of time that he invested on the team with the Andover water deal. We could go about all the committees and all that he has done for the town.”

Al Pereira presented Mauceri a plaque on behalf of the people of North Reading in appreciation for his hard work on behalf of the town.

Marci Bailey thanked Mauceri for his counsel, resolve and calm demeanor in any situation. Being mutual friends back when she had planned to run for selectman she recalled they had agreed not to run against each other. When they did serve together she said she learned “so much from watching you…You’re steadfast, calm and understanding” adding that she treasures their friendship to this day.

Another former Selectman, Jeff Yull said simply: “You are probably the most honorable man that I know.”

“The way you look at budgets is just fascinating,” said former Selectman Sean Delaney. “There will never be anyone who puts in the time and dedication that you have, and I appreciate it on behalf of the town of North Reading.

Chuck Carucci spoke next, noting that they had served on two committees together over the years, the Hillview Commission and the Secondary (School) Building Committee and you left your imprint on both of those…. I will say one thing, you may have a calm demeanor but there were a couple of meetings with the Secondary School Building Committee when things weren’t going well that you let them know, so I appreciate that Bob. When you serve the town everybody always leaves a little imprint; you’re leaving a big imprint,” Carucci said.

Jerry Venezia, a former School Committee member for nearly 20 years, also spoke. “I think I have only heard you get angry twice, and once it was at me!”

Venezia added, “I think there is only one other person who can rival you in service to the town and that is my good friend Chuck Carucci, and Chuck could score more touchdowns than you do.”

“You’ve done so much for the town. It’s a great legacy,” Venezia said, adding that many people “do not give credit to the selectmen for how much support they gave to that Secondary School Building Committee. If it hadn’t been for them, and Bob’s leadership, I’m not sure we would have ever gotten that job done.”

Mel Webster, a former 15-year member of the School Committee chimed in by adding, “I wish I could have emulated his calm demeanor and ability to see both sides! I have never seen anyone who is so fair.”

“I too saw Bob mad once but it was over a $700,000 bathroom at the turf field…but we worked that out,” Webster said, adding that he wanted to thank him for all he had done for North Reading during the 35 years that he and his family lived here. He echoed Venezia’s sentiment with regard to the support given to the SSBC by him as well as Mike Prisco and Stephen O’Leary and their “commitment to getting it done.”

Deanna Castro recalled that when she had started volunteering as an advocate for the schools through North Reading United for Education (NRUE) her children were very young; today, her daughter is a college graduate and her son is a junior in college.

Through those early years, Castro said, “I never could have imagined a better friend, a better listener, a better mentor and coach on so many issues. When North Reading United for Education was born, you didn’t see us as adversaries, you welcomed us as advocates and you taught us how to advocate. And you taught us about growing the pie and understanding all the formulas and what needed to get done, not only for education but for everyone in this community and you made sure that while we were advocating for education we did make sure that other services were taken care of.”

Castro added, “Every time we went to the State House with Stand for Children, Suburban Coalition or NRUE, you were there. You sat in my living room for hours teaching us how to be advocates and better volunteers. In those days, we picked up the phone and talked to one another, and you spent countless hours in those years counseling me, not promising that things were going to be perfect, but that they would be better. You rolled up your sleeves and you worked so hard.”

Each of the Select Board members also thanked Mauceri for his mentorship. Select Board member Steve O’Leary has known Mauceri the longest, having served in some capacity with him over the past 42 years or more.

Mauceri first thanked his wife for all that she has put up with throughout the years and noted that spirit of volunteerism is shared by her as well. “She has joined the Council on Aging and the library, and I thank her. I also want to thank everybody here tonight and all the citizens of North Reading for supporting me over the years. … Without all of us working together, nothing would get done,” he said.

Michael Prisco

“Anybody that knows Mr. Prisco knows that he is a person of high energy and a person of action. He says what he means, he means what he says and he does what he says and his word is good. He serves with great integrity, great dedication, and just like Mr. Mauceri, he is always focused on what is in the best interest of the community,” Manupelli said.

She added that Prisco has “dedicated himself to making things better for the employees of the community, veterans of the community and the elderly of the community. He has been a public servant for the town since 2004 when he began on the Rec Committee. He began his elected service to the board in 2010. He has had a pivotal role in the financial success and stability of the town.”

She described him as an “outside the box kind of thinker, pushing us forward to how this community could be and should be,” pointing to one of his successes — the new employee health insurance funding model as well as getting the town on board with the state Community Compact and the sale of the JT Berry land for Pulte Homes with each of these tasks aimed to bring more financial stability to the town.

Manupelli asked his wife Gina what she would think Mike was most proud of about his service to the town and she told her: “He was always available to the people of the town.”

Manupelli agreed, adding she personally knew that for “anyone that needed to reach him, he was accessible. The hours of his own time, in addition to the hours spent with us, with the employees, the administration, and other boards and commissions” spoke volumes about his dedication to the town.

Prisco is also credited with creating the board’s Strategic Plan, which is updated annually.

Sen. Tarr and Rep. Jones also brought citations from their respective branches of the legislature as well as a citation from Gov. Baker to present to Prisco. Tarr joke  that he and Brad have become used to the “Mike Prisco bear hug.”

“When I think of Mike Prisco, I think of someone with boundless enthusiasm for the future of this community. When he is talking to you about something he has this huge smile and a sparkle in his eye — he wants to convince you of the virtue of moving this town forward. Admittedly, sometimes he can be a little bit like a freight train. But as he is moving in that direction he also has the patience with the rest of us to try to catch on to where he wants to go.”

Tarr said they were both appreciative of “your public service, friendship and partnership and for reminding us when we’re having a down day that there is a better future over the horizon.”

Jones added that Prisco was “tireless in his energy and effort in moving the ball forward … and he was not shy about blowing up our phones, whether calling or texting!”

Prisco’s son, Matt, recalled his father first ran for Selectman when he was in the eighth grade. “I literally said to one of my friends, ‘Why doesn’t he just run for mayor?’ I had no idea there was no such thing as a mayor in town!”

Matt Prisco added, “I can’t pretend to have an appreciation for how hard the job is and for what you guys do but I can tell you that he cares so much and 100 percent of what he did was for the best of everybody… I’m so proud of him. You go out of your way to make the little improvements in people’s lives and I know the applied here. I am sure there are people here in this room who could attest to that as well… Thank you for your unrelenting dedication to this. You did an amazing job and I’m so proud of you.”

The steady stream of well-wishers who had praised Mauceri rose again to expess their thanks to Prisco as well. Rita Mullin said he joined the Rec Committee at the right time for her when her boys were young and she needed to step back. Venezia praised him for his vision on a variety of projects. “In the darkest days of Secondary School Building Committee when we were short of funds and we had to go back to the town for more money, Mike was right there leading the charge. We needed Mike on our side and as a result we were able to get that job done,” Venezia said.

Castro pointed out the value of the strategic plan that Prisco created as a valuable tool and a working document that will continue to benefit the board and town in the future.

Andy Schultz praised Prisco for not forgetting about the working conditions of the town’s employees, noting how noticed on a tour of the town’s DPW garage that the lunch room was in deplorable shape and is repair would need to be made a priority in the budget. “You’re looking out for the little guy,” he said.

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