Local ‘pillar’ receives Clayton accolade


CLAYTON — Justin A. Taylor can add Citizen of the Year to his growing list of titles and accomplishments.

Mr. Taylor was voted as the Clayton Chamber of Commerce’s 2021 Citizen of the Year, announced on Wednesday. People who know the lifelong Clayton resident said the accolade is well-deserved.

“When Justin is into anything, he’s not just a member, he participated, takes an office, and just does a lot,” said village Mayor Norma J. Zimmer, one of the members of the committee that elects each year’s Citizen of the Year.

Mr. Taylor has participated in numerous events, organizations and projects.

Professionally, he’s a former Clayton town supervisor, law enforcement officer and corrections officer who took leadership roles at the Camp Gabriel, Gouverneur and Cape Vincent correctional facilities, and once served as the statewide fire safety coordinator for the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision.

Mr. Taylor also has extensive volunteer experience, serving for 46 years as a volunteer firefighter for the Clayton Fire Department, for which he still volunteers. He’s been chief of that department, board secretary and is now in his second stint as board treasurer. Mr. Taylor is also the vice chairman of the Clayton Joint Fire District.

He’s the vice-commodore, or vice-president, of the Clayton Yacht Club, sits on the board of directors for the Thousand Islands Foundation, and is treasurer for the Village of Clayton Sesquicentennial board. Mr. Taylor also has a litany of former board memberships and other community engagements, including with the Clayton Local Development Corp., the Jefferson County Supervisors Association and the Jefferson County Public Safety Task Force.

Chris Barton, fire chief for the Clayton Volunteer Fire Department, said Mr. Taylor has stood as a pillar of the community, and especially the fire department, for many years now.

“He’s always there, willing to help, giving a hand where needed and doing an outstanding job,” he said.

Mr. Barton called Mr. Taylor a family man, a mentor to the younger volunteer fire fighters and a truly community-driven person.

“Words can’t be spoken enough about him,” Mr. Barton said.

On Wednesday, Mr. Taylor said he was honored and humbled to have received the same award his parents Alvan and Patricia Taylor received in 2002.

“I am absolutely, deeply honored that a group of community people would put me up for this very prestigious award,” he said.

Of his many engagements and activities, Mr. Taylor said he’s worked to keep a balance. Because he likes to get very involved in any organization he works with, he said he’s worked to make sure he isn’t being pulled in too many directions at once.

“I want to be all in, but I didn’t want to stretch myself thin,” he said.

Since he first started working in a public service capacity as a Clayton town lifeguard in 1971, Mr. Taylor said he’s been driven to work in the community in some capacity. He said his parents instilled that respect in him from a very young age.

“My family has always been very involved,” he said. “My mom was a physical education director in the school, my dad was very active in the community service organizations when he worked in the city many years ago. Community involvement is very important to me.”

Mr. Taylor said all of the accomplishments he’s been a part of have come about thanks to teamwork.

“I was very fortunate, being a town board member for 22 years,” he said, “I saw how the hard work of a true team came together.”

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Johnson Newspapers 7.1

I write about north country politics, Jefferson County and the northern shoreline towns of Lyme, Cape Vincent, Clayton and Alexandria Bay

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