Richard Deans retires as Hebron coach after 36 years
HEBRON — A group of locals approached Richard Deans in 1986 and urged him to run for office.
They were right.
Deans reluctantly accepted their challenge, won the election, and remained in charge of the city for the past 36 years, the last 30 as chairman of the board.
His long career as a coach will end on Saturday at the annual municipal meeting at the end of his 12th term.
“It was a lot of fun and a lot of learning,” Deans said. “You get to know the city. By talking to the old people you get the history of the town, so you are prepared for whatever comes your way.
Deans is the second longtime city official to retire in the past two months. City Clerk Joan Clough retired at the end of 2021 after serving 46 years.
Deans grew up in South Portland, but spent a lot of time on a farm in Waterford owned by his mother’s family. He studied agriculture at the University of Maine. He moved to Oxford County, started working on a small dairy farm before taking a job with the Paris Farmers Union, where he worked for 40 years before retiring in 2017.
In a time before computers, Deans, 73, remembers keeping track of city records and using paper spreadsheets and ledger books. In fact, Hebron did not have a separate town hall until 2004.
“I worked from home with all the paperwork and records and Joan worked from home as a tax collector, clerk and treasurer,” Deans said.
In 2004, the city converted a former elementary school on Route 119 into a town hall.
He said he was kind of pushed into the role of president in the early 1990s when the former president stepped down.
“I had to pick up the pieces,” Deans said. “So you had to take the books from the general ledger and, having no background in accounting and that kind of stuff, I had to take my calculator and add and subtract to figure out how those numbers came up and went from the.”
He proved adept at helping develop the city’s budget and carefully monitoring how taxpayers’ money was spent. Deans is proud that Hebron is debt free.
“We had big changes in the infrastructure of the city,” he said. “Not just getting the city office. We built a second fire station. The town garage and the sand/salt shed. We received all the new equipment for the highway service and the fire station. By 2021, we had paid off all long-term debt.
Record keeping has evolved. What started as a pencil and No. 2 paper slowly moved to a combination of paper and computers, until last year when Deans said the office was now fully computerized.
With the city debt-free and modernized, the deans felt the time was right to step aside.
He said he plans to relax and unwind, while keeping busy on his small farm, “walking around” taking care of his animals and doing a bit of haymaking.
“The city is in great shape moving forward,” Deans said.
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