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Ellsworth hailed for work with youth, boosting community pride & patriotism

The children of Creative Opportunity Preschool in Chestertown, an enterprise operated by Joanne Ellsworth, sing a patriotic song during the 2011 Memorial Day ceremonies. Ellsworth has been praised by others in the community for sparking the love of learning and building character in youngsters.

The children of Creative Opportunity Preschool in Chestertown, an enterprise operated by Joanne Ellsworth, sing a patriotic song during the 2011 Memorial Day ceremonies. Ellsworth has been praised by others in the community for sparking the love of learning and building character in youngsters. Photo by Thom Randall.

— Raised in Warrensburg, Ellsworth originally enlisted in the military after high school because she wanted to further her education, but she and her family couldn’t afford to pay for college, she said this week.

She served in the U.S. Army on active duty for 7 years, specializing in Communications, followed by 20 years in the reserves.

During her early years, Ellsworth transmitted messages and data — both digital and analog — in the pre-Internet days, stationed in such locations as Japan, Germany, and sites she isn’t willing to disclose. Her work started in the Viet Nam era and continued during the Gulf War.

When her active duty concluded, Ellsworth settled in Chestertown with her husband Ron, and they raised three children. She is officially retiring this week from the Army reserves.

In 1989, she opened the pre-school, and for many years, her students have sung at patriotic services and performed in community shows, to the delight of many.

“I believe our country needs the spirit of patriotism to stay strong,” she said.

In 2004 or so, Ellsworth took on the additional role of commander of the local Legion post.

Since then, she’s helped coordinate various efforts to upgrade the Legion headquarters, including projects undertaken by two local Eagle Scouts — Kyle McKenzie’s work rehabilitating on the post’s interior, and Jacob Hill’s accomplishments in landscaping the premises, constructing a new Legion Post sign and creating a parking lot.

Ellsworth again deferred credit.

“It was the boys and the community support that made it happen — individuals and businesses of the area have been so responsive to our needs.”

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