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Longtime Senior Services Director retires

Pellettier key in building unique town department

Longtime town employee and the veritable founder of the Town of Bethlehem Senior Services Department Karen Pellettier bid Town Hall adieu last week and entered retirement with 32 years of service under her belt.

Pellettier got her start in town government working as a volunteer liaison between seniors and the Parks and Recreation Department, and was quickly hired to expand the breadth of senior support offered by the town.

By 1980, several volunteers were assisting Pellettier in what became the Senior Services Department, which today offers transportation, social outings, caregiver services and legal assistance to the town's seniors. Senior Services also operates the town's food bank program and has seven full time and several part time employees and over 200 volunteers.

Many services are provided in conjunction with the not-for-profit Bethlehem Senior Projects, Inc. Other communities have adopted this innovative partnership, said Town Board member Kyle Kotary.

Karen deserves credit for what is looked at as a modelfor public private partnerships in local government, he said. "Throughout Karen's career in the town, she has not only developed a reputation as someone who works hard and has a huge heart, but who also thinks outside of the box."

"She's done a tremendous job for the town," said Assistant Senior Services Director Joyce Becker. "She's made a tremendous commitment for the older people in this town."

The town will be selecting a replacement in the coming weeks.

Peletier was honored at a Wednesday, March 10, Bethlehem Town Board meeting, during which former supervisors Jack Cunningham, Theresa Egan and Sheila Fuller joined Supervisor Sam Messina in presenting her with an official resolution. Former supervisor Ken Ringler, the only other living town supervisor, could not be present due to a prior engagement.

Messina read the official proclamation and gave a short speech recognizing Pellettier's impact on the town.

"Out of all the public servants I know"and I know a lot of them"you are the one we should all emulate," he said.

Pellettier and her husband, John, have three grown children and are awaiting the arrival of their fifth grandchild. She will be spending more time with her family in retirement.""

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