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Town of Shaftsbury, VT
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Shaftsbury, Vermont 05262

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Ordinary Heroes - Award Revived in Shaftsbury; Mike Taylor Honored

Posted: June 12, 2024

SHAFTSBURY - Efforts at secrecy were successful. Mike Taylor expressed complete surprise at being named the Shaftbury Historical Society's Ordinary Hero for 2024.

The Society last gave out the award in 2017 but was seeking to restart it.

"We're trying to start off slow, because it's an ice-breaker for us. A lot of people on the board, myself included, have never seen this done," said Historical Society President Jim Cassidy, before the event on Saturday. "We're just going to try and reintroduce it."

With the help of Shaftsbury state Rep. David Durfee, and support from state Senators Brian Campion and Dick Sears, the Society presented Taylor with a framed concurrent resolution from the Vermont House in his honor. Barbara Marino nominated Taylor. Shaftsbury Fire Chief Joe Vadakin helped with the content of the resolution.

The award is named after a book by Ruth Levin, with Tyler Resch, about the town called "Ordinary Heroes." It was published in 1978 and is available for purchase. The book is considered an important resource about Shaftsbury.

mike taylor In 2014, Levin was honored by the Historical Society and the Vermont Legislature as Shaftsbury's first "Ordinary Hero." Author, historian, business owner, and community fixture in Shaftsbury, Levin died at age 90 in 2017.

The subsequent recipients were Ken Coonradt, Brenda and George Keen, and Timothy Finney.

Cassidy said he called Resch to talk about the origin of the title of the book and they had a conversation about it.

"'Ordinary Hero' is almost a contradiction in terms when you think about it, right? Most people think of heroes in society today as rich people doing fabulous things and famous people," Cassidy said. "But Ruth's idea, we decided after our conversation, was just to emphasize the fact that it was the ordinary people that founded this town. And there are still ordinary people doing heroic things here in the town."

"We talked about that. And the fact that she wanted to convey the idea that ordinary people are still capable of heroic accomplishments. So, we're trying to reintroduce this day, once a year, in the summer, and this is the first year we're doing it," he said. "A lot of people on the board, have not seen it. A lot of people in the town probably don't remember it. So we're hoping to move forward and do this every year."

Durfee read the resolution, which was adopted in early May. He noted that he didn't write it. "I think we all probably have our own stories, and maybe people will share those later, about some of the heroic things that Mike has done over the years," he said.

"I'll just say also before I read it that if it was really a secret until today, that's wonderful. I was worried, because we have to publish this," he said. "It gets published and printed and distributed in Montpelier three times - that's normal."

The resolution notes that Taylor is the Shaftsbury Assistant Fire Chief and a graduate of Vermont Technical College. He joined the fire department 24 years ago and proved to be an outstanding fire fighter. In 2008 his firefighting colleagues chose him to second assistant fire chief and a decade later chose him as the department's first assistant chief. In addition, "his financial and administrative acumen have resulted in his designation as both secretary and treasurer of the department."

Taylor has led the vehicle extrication team and been an instructor in the subject. He chairs the Vermont State Firefighters' Associations judging and awards committee. He serves on the Bennington Rescue Squad's Board of Trustees. Taylor, and his wife of 45 years, Sue, have two sons, Nick and Ian, who have followed him into the Shaftsbury Department, according to the resolution.

"Mike Taylor is hardworking, reliable, and always goes above and beyond the call of duty and he is an idea choice for this special recognition," the resolution states.

Taylor said he was very surprised. "I just want to thank everyone. So surprised, very honored, very honored."

"We're honored to have you here," Cassidy said.

"Well deserved!" someone said.

The Shaftsbury Historical Society is a member-and-volunteer-supported organization dedicated to the preservation and interpretation of the history of Shaftsbury. The event took place at the Governor Galusha House on Route 7A, home of the Society.

Compliments of: The Bennington Banner
Posted/Author: Mark Rondeau

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