By HOWARD BALABAN
Medina Journal-Register — On Tuesday night, Marie Little won big.
Little is the Town Clerk in Royalton. At the annual conference for the New York State Town Clerks Association, Little earned the honor of Town Clerk of the Year.
“It was a very big surprise, and I was both humbled and honored to receive it,” she said. After 11 years serving her community, Little said she was not looking for any type of accolades, but “certainly appreciated what was said about me on Tuesday.”
Royalton Town Supervisor Jennifer Bieber said Little’s award was actually a long time coming. She explained that to be eligible for the award clerks must be in their position for 10 years.
“I honestly feel like they’ve just been waiting for her to get past the 10-year mark to give her this award.”
Bieber spoke highly of Little, noting how “everything she does for the town and the community” made her very deserving. Her dedication was also mentioned.
“She’s everywhere you need her to be when she needs to be there,” Bieber said. “In my capacity, she’s essential. I know I can pick up the phone and ask for this or that.”
The supervisor continued, “Marie takes care of everyone like they are the only person she needs to take care of that day.” She added a quick story about how when Little was in the hospital for a while in 2010, she “still ran the office” from her room.
“She’s dedicated,” Bieber said.
Another colleague of Little’s, Account Clerk Loretta Criswell, said it is a a pleasure to share an office with the award winner.
“She’s a role model. She’s someone you look up to because she’s very professional,” Criswell said. “If there’s a question or a problem, she figures it out. She’s our backbone.”
Both Bieber and Criswell are long-time friends of Little’s. They were among the small group of Royalton Town staff and family associated with Little who surprised her at the award announcement Tuesday.
“We knew she won, and we kept it secret for a good month and a half,” laughed Criswell. “The whole board was there to support her.”
Tuesday night’s surprise appearance even had an out-of-state guest as Little’s family and friends managed to open an online video chat window with her son, currently serving in the Air Force and deployed in Afghanistan.
Criswell said the board knew Little had been nominated for the award, and they wrote letters to the association advocating for her. Those letters not only led to the statewide award, but the association’s District 10 (Erie, Niagara, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua Counties) Clerk of the Year honor as well.
Bieber said Little’s achievement has caught the attention of some of the other 900 or so towns.
“She’s put our town on the map, and highlighted the fact that good things are going on in smaller, rural, agricultural towns,” she said.
“She’s just an awesome person.”