MASSENA — When Albert “Herb” Deshaies was nominated for another four-year term as Massena village trustee in 2016, the Democratic caucus was held at the Massena Community Center.
Mr. Deshaies was at the center again on Friday, but not for another nomination as village trustee. This time, the Senior Citizen Game Room was being named the Albert “Herb” Deshaies Activity Room in his honor, in recognition of his 25 years of service to the community as a member of the Village Board.
Mr. Deshaies, a life-long Massena resident, did not seek another term on the board this year. His spot will be filled by former St. Lawrence County legislator and Massena Town Council member, Gregory Paquin.
During his tenure as village trustee, which began in 1995, Mr. Deshaies has served five mayors, including current Mayor Timmy J. Currier, Charles Boots, Kenneth MacDonnell, Randy DeLosh and James Hidy.
“Herb was appointed by Mayor Charlie Boots to fill a vacancy on the board of trustees on Nov. 21, 1995, so he is coming up on 25 years of service. That is remarkable service to our community,” Mr. Currier said.
He said, during Mr. Deshaies’ tenure as trustee, he had been a part of upgrades and renovations at every village-owned facility, such as the water plant, sewer plant, fire department, public works and police department. He was also instrumental in the creation of the Massena Community Center.
“Herb understands that forward thinking is vital to local government success. Herb has truly been an ambassador for Massena and for local government,” Mr. Currier said.
He said Mr. Deshaies always represented the community “with class, dignity, smile and, of course, that famous ‘Amen.’”
“Herb, Massena is a better place because you lived here, you and your wife raised your family here, and you served our community on the Village Board,” he said.
Many of those Mr. Deshaies served with congratulated him in a video presentation.
“Congratulations on your 20-plus years on the board. I think you’re probably one of the people who lasted the longest as a trustee,” Mr. Boots said.
“It seems like yesterday in 1995 Charlie appointed us as trustees,” former Trustee John Wicke said. “We campaigned together, laughed together, attended countless meetings and made countless decisions. It was all in great fun because of your warm, witty way. You always served Massena in a very humble, direct, honest manner. It served Massena so very well.”
Former Trustee Michael Violi said he looked back fondly on his time on the board “partially because of people like you. You were a welcoming presence. You were like a father figure, especially to Johnny Wicke and I and younger guys on the board. You took us under your wing and you made us feel welcome. You really to me are symbolic of what the best of Massena can be and what the best of Massena is.”
“You have a record to be proud of, and I’m honored to have worked with you for eight of those years. I admire your independence, always voting for what you thought was best for the community, and I’m very pleased to hear that they are honoring you by naming the game room at the community center after you. This is a very fitting tribute because I know personally that you worked very hard to make that project possible, and that the community center would never have been built without your support,” Mr. MacDonnell said.
Mr. Deshaies said he was surprised by the honor and thanked everyone who attended the ceremony, including family, friends and officials.
“I don’t know what to say because I wasn’t prepared,” he said. “I just want to thank everybody. It was a big surprise.”