30 Years Not Quite Enough for Trustees' Steady Hand

After 30 years, Lori Miller-Carr is retiring as the East Hampton Town Trustees’ full-time secretary, but she will continue on a part-time basis. Christopher Walsh

Lori Miller-Carr, who marked her 30th year working for the East Hampton Town Trustees yesterday, will retire as the trustees’ secretary on May 30. 

But, it turns out, 30 years wasn’t quite enough.

At their meeting on Monday the trustees unanimously voted to rehire Ms. Miller-Carr, effective May 31, as a part-time secretary, working  two days a week. The trustees rely on a part-time secretary as well as one who is full time. They therefore followed the resolution hiring Ms. Miller-Carr with another naming Arlene Tesar, who is already in the trustees’ employ, as the full-time secretary. 

Ms. Miller-Carr will lose the weekly stipend for the secretary who attends meetings and records minutes. That will now go to Ms. Tesar. Ms. Miller-Carr will receive a maximum of $17,000 per year. 

“To be honest, I’ve worked for so long that I don’t think I could not work,” Ms. Miller-Carr said on Tuesday. “I have so much planned to do, but still want to be able to come in here.” Ms. Tesar, she said, “has been great. She’s doing a good job. She’s very friendly to the public. I’m really happy that she’s taking my place as secretary.” 

In 1988, when she started working for the trustees, Ms. Miller-Carr’s office was at the East Hampton Town Marine Museum, a proverbial stone’s throw from the trustees’ headquarters in the Donald Lamb Building on Bluff Road in Amagansett. “I think back then we had, maybe, three file cabinets; now we have 13. It’s gotten so much busier,” she said. 

Recalling her first year as secretary, Ms. Miller-Carr said she did not have a computer. “I think it was maybe six months later. David Talmage was elected trustee, and he was blind. He had a voice-activated computer, and he taught me.” 

Diane McNally, a longtime trustee and the body’s clerk for almost as long, preceded Ms. Miller-Carr as secretary. “She was on maternity leave,” Ms. Miller-Carr said. “She wrote this long list of things to do — if it wasn’t for her, I would have been lost! She was a godsend.” 

The trustees used to store boat moorings at the Marine Museum after their removal from Three Mile Harbor in the fall, she said. “They’d put them on the Marine Museum porch. I was out there counting them when a green Mercedes pulled up, all the windows shaded.” The driver got out and asked Ms. Miller-Carr when the museum was open. “It was Billy Joel,” she said. The musician and his then-wife, the model Christie Brinkley, lived on Further Lane at the time, “and their daughter used to go to school in Amagansett.”

There were other visitors to — or, perhaps, residents of — the museum. Ms. Miller-Carr said that she and John Courtney, a former trustees’ attorney, believe the building is haunted. “I worked there all by myself. The only time anyone was there was when the museum was open in the summer and fall. In the summer, there were a lot of classes.” One winter, “I’m typing away or whatever, and hear these kids running up and down the stairs, making noise. I looked out, and there was nobody at all. John had the same thing happen to him.” 

Nevertheless, Ms. Miller-Carr said, “I’m not afraid of ghosts, if there is such a thing. I’m more afraid of live people.”

Among the many trustees Ms. Miller-Carr has enjoyed working with, “Jim McCaffrey stands out,” she said, referring to the late clerk, or presiding officer. “He was a kind gentleman. He was almost like a grandfather to me. I was going through a divorce, and he was always very, very nice to me. I’ll never forget. Gordon Vorpahl was another. A good trustee, and a real nice person.” 

“Most of the people I worked with were really, really good people, and they really cared about the environment and the baymen. This board that we have now, they are all workers. It’s really great to see.”