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Nashoba Publishing is honored once again this year to present our Extraordinary Service Awards.

These awards are given to emergency services personnel whose contributions exceed the ordinary, thereby greatly benefiting the people they serve.

Seven years ago, we chose to recognize professionals in the law enforcement, firefighting, emergency medical and telecommunicator fields because of the very essence of what they do — they can literally save our lives.

We honor this year:

* a paramedic program committed to providing patients with the very best care possible outside of a hospital.

* a firefighter whose extreme dedication spans more than 45 years.

* a reserve police sergeant whose volunteer and reliable service has lasted more than two decades.

* a firefighter who has made it her life’s mission to teach all people about the dangers of fire;

* an emergency management director whose contributions to his town exceed a half century, and to whom the town turns when an emergency strikes;

* a state trooper who very ably fulfills the role of liaison in a variety of often confidential incidents;

* a firefighter whose expertise in the handling of hazardous waste has made an entire community safer.

We will also recognize two men who have volunteered a great amount of time and expertise to better enable a police department to keep abreast of the latest in high-tech capabilities.

There are many facets to any town’s government and each one, in its way, serves the community. But the highest regard must go to those who train to protect us and to save us.

So what do we call these people? Are they heroes? That word is being increasingly scrutinized these days with so many facing extreme peril on foreign soil.

As we think about who the heroes are in our lives, consider the words of Benjamin Disraeli, British Prime Minister and novelist, 1804-1881: “The legacy of heroes is the memory of a great name and the inheritance of a great example.”

To the children helped across a busy thoroughfare, to a person trapped in a demolished car or to someone who needs to know how to stop someone they love from choking, the people listed here might very well qualify.

Read their stories and you will remember their names and be awed by their examples.

Someone must cut

Next week, Townsend voters will go to the polls to vote on a single question: Will the town assess an additional $714,220 in taxes to help fund the operating budget for the North Middlesex Regional School District.

Pepperell and Ashby are the other two members of this regional school district. Pepperell has voted to fund the school budget with available cash; Ashby has voted against the override that town would need to fund its share of the budget increase.

If Townsend votes against the override, the school district must re-think its budget. If Townsend votes yes, Ashby must re-think its municipal budget.

We’re hearing this week that pink slips were handed out to teachers while they were still in their classrooms. We’re told that at least one teacher cried and that more than one student was upset. We hope that’s not true. There is no argument to support involving children in such a matter.

There are signs cropping up in Townsend in support of the override. One person at a recent meeting was heard to say that nothing is more important than the schools.

Is that so?

It would seem that the dispatcher, police officer, EMT or firefighter that answers your 911 call is of equal importance.

How about the people who maintain the roads, provide the water, assess the homes, collect the taxes — all enabling the schools to open? Are they not as important?

The schools and town have come up with budgets they say they must have. Now they turn to you for more money. An override is forever: Can you afford to add three-quarters of a million dollars to your tax burden?

A great many choices are made in building a budget. Most of them you never see or hear about.

Are you convinced that there is nowhere else to cut in the school budget?

Because if they don’t cut their budget, you’ll have to cut yours.

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