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by PEGGY SPELLMAN HOEY, The North Shore Sun

Middle Island Civic Association president Tom Talbot’s friends all admit they can’t say enough about him.

But if they were pressed to point out just one thing, they agree it would be the fact that he never seems to say ‘no’ to anyone.

Mr. Talbot wears many hats throughout the North Shore community. With at least three ongoing developments proposed for the hamlet and numerous other issues always coming and going — such as historic preservation, litter, traffic congestion and neighbors with zoning problems — Mr. Talbot always has his hands full with the civic association. Since taking the helm of the civic in the fall of 2006, he has been forced to pay close attention to the goings on in the community but he still always has time to lend a helping hand to other causes. Regardless, whether it be a resident with a quality-of-life issue in their neighborhood or a fellow civic leader who needs to be steered in the right direction with a problem in their own community, Mr. Talbot tackles each scenario head-on in his position as a volunteer.It is for that reason that The North Shore Sun has chosen Tom Talbot as its 2009 Community Leader of the Year.

“He is a consummate gentleman,” said Gail Lynch-Bailey, secretary of the Middle Island Civic Association. “No matter what group he is representing, he represents them well, respectfully and fairly — which is so rare.”

Ms. Lynch-Bailey credited her colleague with taking up many volunteer causes such as the Rotary Club in Rocky Point, which raises scholarship money for local students and also sponsors international students to visit from abroad. Mr. Talbot also donates his time to the Sons of the American Revolution, an organization that fosters patriotic values.’He is really a model civic leader.’ Councilwoman Connie Kepert

“[Tom Talbot] never seeks the limelight like others,” said Ms. Lynch-Bailey, who also serves with Mr. Talbot on the Caithness Advisory Committee. “He waits for hours to speak his peace on an issue because it’s his job.”

Perhaps friends can’t say enough about Mr. Talbot because he does so much.

He volunteers with his wife, Judy, at the soup kitchen at Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church in Rocky Point. He is active on the Brookhaven National Laboratory Community Advisory Council. In addition to all that, Mr. Talbot is treasurer of the Affiliated Brookhaven Civic Association.

“He does whatever he can to help the community,” said Fourth District Councilwoman Connie Kepert. “He is really a model civic leader. He is just the best. I love Tom.”

Ms. Kepert noted that the good thing about Mr. Talbot is that he’s willing to get involved in causes that are broad and impact not only his community, but the whole town. Mr. Talbot even acts as co-chair of Brookhaven Town’s anti-litter committee and, Ms. Kepert explained, in his spare time, he goes around taking down illegal signs from utility poles.

“He is really such a truly good human being and you don’t find many of those,” Ms. Kepert said. “He is just a wonderful person.”

Coram Civic Association president Erma Gluck agreed that Mr. Talbot has some fine qualities — not only as a fellow civic leader, but also as a person.

“Tom is a great guy to work with,” she said. “He is very easygoing. He is very willing to always help others.”

Ms. Gluck knows Mr. Talbot going back to 2002 with the commencement of the Middle Country Road land use plan and continues to work with him on Vision Long Island’s Smart Growth Working Group.

“He does work all over the town,” Ms. Gluck said. “Like I said, he will never say ‘no’ to anyone.”

peggy@northshoresun.com