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Gloria Alvarado (left) is sworn in Wednesday night as mayor of Utica by village clerk Laurie Gbur. A week after the death of mayor Fred Esmond, the Utica Village Board entered closed session and emerged with a unanimous vote to install Alvarado, the most senior village trustee, as acting mayor. She services until the next round of municipal elections in spring 2015.
Gloria Alvarado is the new mayor of Utica. Wednesday, the Utica Village Board convened, held a moment of silence for the late Fred Esmond and retreated into closed session to pick Esmond’s successor. A half hour later, trustees emerged and voted unanimously to appoint Alvarado acting village president. Alvarado, a trustee since 2005, was the most senior member of the village board. Esmond, 63, died Oct. 2 following a long battle with cancer that effectively robbed him of his ability to speak above a whisper. He leaves a nearly full unexpired term; but by law Alvarado can serve through April 7, 2015, the next time municipal elections can be held. Alvarado, 77, a part-time librarian and retired preschool teacher, completed the oath of office to solemn applause and then resigned as trustee, noting that seat would be filled “very soon.” “I have big shoes to fill,” she said of replacing Esmond. She pledged to maintain regular office hours noon-4 p.m. daily beginning Tuesday. The meeting was decidedly somber. Village clerk Laurie Gbur conducted roll call and wiped away tears as she bypassed Esmond’s name. Gbur then turned the floor over to village attorney Herb Klein to deliver a tribute. Klein said he learned early on never to mistake Esmond’s calm demeanor for a lack of resolve or determination. Whenever Esmond was criticized for a decision on Utica’s future, he never yielded to anger; instead, he listened patiently and proceeded firmly with whatever he deemed best for Utica. “When Fred got pushed back,” Klein said, “he pushed forward.” Klein also marveled at Esmond’s dedication to Utica and how he never declined a meeting or obligation. “He did whatever it took,” he said. “He sacrificed his personal business. He sacrificed his personal family life. His dedication to the village was nothing short of amazing.” Separately, the board adopted a consent order with the Environmental Protection Agency that fully opens up the long-halted second well, which had been shut down due to radium contamination. The EPA had lifted some restrictions to allow limited use of the well. Finally, the village board voted 5-0 (Alvarado did not vote) to purchase three dilapidated lots on East Grove Street for $6,000. In other matters, the board: - Approved the village’s Christmas event, featuring visits with Santa, Sunday, Dec. 4 -Authorized the purchase of cell phones for maintenance and police departments, costs not to exceed $600 - Approved a “child at play’ sign for Canal and Armstrong streets - Set trick-or-treat hours: 5-7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 31