WEST FARMINGTON - After 35 years of service to the village in many capacities, most recently 16 years as the mayor, Allen Patchin will retire on Saturday.
A surprise farewell party was held for Patchin at the West Farmington United Methodist Church.
Patchin began his public service in 1978 and served in many capacities until being elected mayor in 1997 and serving four terms in the post.
Mayor Allen Patchin, center, is congratulated on his upcoming retirement on Saturday by Middy Smith, left, and Laverne Christlieb.
He has been a member of Village Council, including four years as council president, street commissioner and a member of the fire department.
''You name it and I have done the job,'' he said.
''I was born and raised here. I know everybody. It's a great community with good people who will chip in and help,'' Patchin said of the 500-resident village.
Many who have known Patchin all his life, describe him as a ''hands-on'' mayor involved with everything from putting flags up to participating in various programs throughout the year, including Easter, Halloween and Christmas, to getting a shovel in the middle of the night to dig up a waterline.
Others said Patchin's vast knowledge, experience, dedication and expertise were invaluable during all his years of service.
Laverne Christlieb, whose son Thomas will take over the post, said Patchin was a wonderful mayor.
''Even though at times it can be a thankless job, I always gave him a pat on the back because no matter what you do, you can't make everyone happy. He was able to make many residents happy with what he did for the village,'' Christlieb said.
Thomas Christlieb, who as council president will become the new mayor Sunday until an election is held, said he has known Patchin all his life.
''We have worked together on council for 30 years. He has been a good friend,'' Christlieb said. ''A lot has been able to be accomplished under his leadership. Whenever there was something that needed to be done, Al was there. Al doesn't stand back. If something needed dug up in the middle of the night, Al would get a shovel and be there,'' he said.
Christlieb is scheduled to be sworn in as mayor at 7 p.m. today during a special council meeting at the village hall.
Patchin said he is most proud of all the projects able to be completed, with the cooperation of all village officials, while a mayor for the village. Those include road improvements, new trees in the park, benches and a baseball diamond, several water plant updates, and day-to-day improvements, he said.
Patchin said he looks forward to seeing the sewer project completed.
He said the village employees he has worked with have not backed away from any project.
Patchin said he will always remember getting the late hour calls to help someone whose basement was flooding and needed the water pumped out. He helped with many of the water and gasoline projects and with many contractors.
''As a mayor, you are always on call at any time,'' he said.
Patchin said he always made it a point to visit and welcome new residents.
''I would give them my number if they ever had a problem,'' he said.
''I thank all of those who have helped me and worked with me with all that we were able to get done and all the accomplishments that we made. I thank council and (treasurer / clerk) Jackie (Mitton), who was my right hand,'' he said.
He mentioned that the annual summer festival was always a highlight for him. He often took part in the tractor pull and the pie-eating contest. He worked with Mitton, who was festival chair of the event's planning committee.
Mitton said if it wasn't for all that Patchin does, her job would have been much harder.
''Everything that needs to be done, Allen does it. If anyone calls or anyone comes into the office, whatever it is, he is there to do it,'' Mitton said.
Mitton said Patchin and resident Joe Clear, who has an excavating business, were the ones often seen working in the middle of the night on some project, water leak or break
''Allen was what our community is all about,'' Mitton said.
At his retirement party, plaques and proclamations were presented from county and local officials recognizing Patchin for his service at the gathering.
Trumbull County Commissioner Frank Fuda said that Patchin has ''exemplified the meaning of public servant'' by helping many friends, families, co-workers and even strangers.
''He will be missed by all,'' Fuda said.
He and the other commissioners have worked with Patchin on many projects in the village.
Patchin said for retirement, he will be working on remodeling his new home and traveling with his wife, Judy.