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Nicols brothers named Rumford Citizens of Year
RUMFORD -- Selectmen voted unanimously Thursday to name brothers Jim and Billy Nicols as 2011 Rumford Citizens of the Year.
Their company, Nicols Bros. Logging, located in the Rumford Industrial Park, lent the town temporary use of their company's logging bridge to span Bean Brook. They voluntarily installed it after flooding from Tropical Storm Irene destroyed the Swain Road bridge Aug. 28 and 29, 2011.
In reading her nomination paper for the Nicols brothers, Selectman Jolene Lovejoy said, "While the residents of Rumford owe a great deal of gratitude to the Nicols brothers, it is most certain that it is a debt we will never be able to repay for their most unselfish acts of kindness, during one of Rumford's most difficult times. Some people think that it's only during the best of conditions that we see good things happening. I personally think that it is when the worst of conditions present themselves that our true 'heroes' surface."
She said this bridge had served as a major connector for residents and visitors. "Not only were daily commuters inconvenienced, but they also risked the loss of life without timely emergency services."
Lovejoy said much discussion in town keyed on how to resolve the Swain Road bridge crisis. "Town officials were looking for the best possible solution to serve the community long-term, but before the town came to their final decision regarding the bridge, two unlikely 'Super Heroes,' one from Mexico and one from Rumford, came forward without any prodding and offered to alleviate the situation."
She said they not offered the use of their own temporary bridge, but also volunteered to help install it. Lovejoy said people who are close to Jim and Billy Nicols "agree they would never expect any special recognition and are just glad to have been able to help."
"I know Jimmy and Billy Nicols pretty well and they're not going to like this," said Selectman Brad Adley. "Super guys, including their whole crew. They all step up. They're phenomenal."
Selectman Jeff Sterling added that the donation of that bridge "enabled us to do it right," referring to the process of a permanent solution for that area.
Town Manager Carlo Puiia recalled that after Tropical Storm Irene, he was driving around and surveying the damage when a public works employee told him, "'Hey, the Nicols brothers want to lend us a bridge!' You couldn't ask for two more genuine people, their crews who came in to help install it, it was a work of beauty."
He said the town didn't really get the project going until January to install a new bridge.
"So it would have been four or five months of not being able to access that road for public safety reasons, and certainly if you needed an ambulance on the other side. It was a six-mile trip in and a six-mile trip back. So really, the Nicols brothers did a great service to all of our citizens."
Puiia said the brothers will be presented the award at a future meeting, when family members can be present.
In other business, the board accepted the nomination by Puiia to re-appoint Jennifer Kreckel as the town attorney for 2012-13.
Selectmen will have a goal-setting workshop at 6 p.m. this Thursday in the Rumford Falls Auditorium.