LAKE GEORGE - For more than a quarter century, Lou Tessier has listened to countless monthly reports on the condition of the town dump, and 300 or so routine tallies of how many street lights are burned out in town.
Tessier's heard thousands of complaints concerning water, sewer, highway and development problems - which he's sought to fix - and he's attempted to quell occasional squabbles between neighbors or town employees.
Over his 26 years as town supervisor, he's listened to one rant after another, some with merit, others baseless.
But as of Dec. 31, Tessier will be free of the routine disputes and problems routinely fielded by town officials, as he is retiring and Frank McCoy is taking over the helm.
Tuesday, Tessier presided over his last town board meeting, and a capacity crowd gathered to pay tribute to his quarter-century-plus of service.
They heard Tessier, for the last time, lead the board in the Pledge of Allegiance - in his trademark Queens-bred twang.
The town meeting agenda, devoid of "New Business" or "Old Business" entries, was devoted primarily to testimonials to Tessier.
Each of nearly a dozen presenters - politicians, citizens and friends - praised Tessier for his service and character.
Headlining the lineup was state Assemblywoman Teresa Sayward, who read a proclamation in Tessier's honor.
"If something needs to get done, regardless of how complex the issue may be, Lou always finds a way to get the job accomplished," she said.
Warren County Board of Supervisors Chairman Fred Monroe, who worked with him on the county board for 18 years and knew him for years before that, praised Tessier for his traits and work ethic.
"Lou's a straight-shooter," Monroe said, cracking a rare smile. "He's honest and always concerned with county employees and the services we provide for citizens."
Monroe praised Tessier for his knowledge of the trash plant operations and finances - and for his long hours of work advising Monroe and other county officials in renegotiating trash burn plant contracts that drained many millions of dollars out of taxpayers' pockets since the early 1990s. Tessier, of course, was one of the supervisors who voted for the original contract that created the ongoing financial hardship that many have blamed on state policies of the 1980s.
"Lou has a wealth of knowledge about issues facing our county, and particularly, he helped immensely in figuring out how to get out of those trash plant contracts," Monroe continued. "He's a truly devoted professional."
Caryl Clark read a proclamation from Gov. David Paterson which said the operations of the town government were improved substantially during his "long and productive" tenure.
"You have made many vital contributions to the quality of life in Lake George," Paterson's certificate read.
Supervisor-elect Frank McCoy also read tributes, one from Lake George Mayor Robert Blais, who praised the inter-municipal cooperation between the two entities, and another from U.S. Rep. Scott Murphy.
Scott Wood read a certificate from state Sen. Betty Little.
"You have helped strengthen and shape the character of Lake George," her tribute said, citing his "faithful and conscientious" service.
Deputy Supervisor Vinnie Crocitto praised Tessier for his community work, noting his service through the local fire company, emergency squad, zoning board of appeals and the Republican party, as well as a town official.
"Lou approached everything he did with compassion, care, enthusiasm, thoroughness and generosity," he said.
Tessier was devoted to keeping taxes and expenses low while upgrading the town's services and facilities, he said.
"Lou went above and beyond what was required," Crocitto added. "And he aided other citizens without expectation of reward or recognition."
In that vein, Lake George Supervisor-Elect Frank McCoy recalled a memory from his teen years when Tessier had delivered heating oil to his parents' household near midnight on Christmas Eve when his fuel tank ran dry and the home starting going cold. Years later, his parents vowed to vote him into public office, McCoy remembered.
"Lou has done so much like that for so many citizens," McCoy said. "He's changed their lives through grants he's obtained or jobs he's gotten for them - he's a person who truly loves people."
Lake George Emergency Squad President Bruce Kilburn recalled Tessier's community service first in volunteering on the squad and in the fire department, and later promoting, as a town official, the agencies' requests for new headquarters.
"Without the town's support, these things never would have been accomplished," he said.
Janie Green, a 2009 candidate for town board, said that Tessier was always responsive to the concerns of citizens and business owners.
"Lou always put our community first," she said.
Business owner John Carr offered his thoughts.
"He may not always agree with you, but he's honest enough to tell you he doesn't - and tell you why he disagrees," Carr said.
Choking up with tears glistening in her eyes, Caryl Clark offered her praise for the man she served for decades with. Clark was Lake George town clerk for 20 years, followed by 16 years as Warren County Clerk while Tessier served on the county Board of Supervisors.
"Lou has been completely dedicated to what he believed was right for the citizens of Lake George and Warren County," she said, recognizing that Tessier's blunt and strong-willed approach sometimes ruffled feathers. "People are never going to be happy at all times, however - you do the best you can do until someone else decides yo walk in your shoes."
Living up to the recent local tradition, a trio of citizens who've opposed Tessier's policies or politics aired their concerns Monday - although not mentioning Tessier by name except for farewells - despite the advance notice that the meeting was going to be handled as a landmark session.
In her tribute, Clark added that through the years, Tessier was always seeking to assist others.
"Lou has help many more families than his constituents will ever know," she said.
Uncharacteristically low-key at Monday's meeting, Tessier read each proclamation and smiled as they were handed to him.
"I think I did a pretty good job," he said after the meeting as citizens gathered to cut cake in his honor.
Tessier was elected to the Lake George Town Board in 1981, and he was voted in as town supervisor in 1983. Since his entry into politics, he's won 14 consecutive elections, most of them unchallenged.
The accolades aren't likely to end with Monday night's meeting. An event titled "Thank You Lou" is set for 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Jan. 24 at the Holiday Inn-Turf in Lake George.
The public is invited to attend.