If I could give out a best citizen award in New London, it would go this month to Charles W. Hedge for his role in helping to gild the city a bit.
It's kind of a long story, which begins back in 2003 or so, when Hedge was running a large antiques store on Bank Street, one in which he specialized in New London memorabilia.
One day, he came across a picture book from the turn of the 20th century, published, apparently, as a kind of Chamber of Commerce promotional pamphlet, back in the day when the city was trying to reinvent itself, at the end of the whaling era.
One of the pictures especially caught Hedge's eye.
It showed the handsome 1784 clapboard courthouse at the head of State Street, but atop the familiar rooftop cupola was a weather vane Hedge had never seen before.
It was a classic of the genre - a shiny and gold-gilded flat piece of bronze crafted to look like a banner blowing jauntily in a stiff wind. Such designs are known, reasonably enough, as banner weather vanes.
The more familiar weather vane atop the old New London courthouse, depicted in later pictures through the 20th century, was a version of another classic, an arrow on top of a ball.
In fact, the old arrow weather vane blew down sometime during the 1990s and, to the best of Hedge's knowledge, it still rests in storage in an office of a courthouse custodian.
So by the time Hedge came across the picture of the original banner weather vane, the courthouse actually was bare roofed, displaying nothing at all atop its cupola.
Hedge then set out on a campaign to have a replica of the original banner weather vane made and installed.
First, he approached city officials, who told him they weren't interested in helping because it is a state courthouse. Then he went to the state and offered to raise the money privately to have the weather vane made and installed.
He was told that, no, the state would have to undertake the project. And with Hedge's encouragement and assistance, they did.
When I met him this week, he showed me the contents of his large file on the courthouse weather vane, showing his extensive correspondence with officials in the facilities department of the state Judicial Department.
Eventually, the project went out to bid. Hedge said he insisted that it be gold-gilded, a more expensive option than plain bronze.
In his file is the drawing of the final replica, based on the old photographs, that was created by Kenneth Lynch & Sons of Oxford, the winning bidder. It cost about $7,500.
The weather vane was finished in 2007, Hedge says, but it wasn't installed until recently because it needed to be grounded and the historic building wasn't wired properly. The installation of the new weather vane within the last few weeks was part of an ongoing restoration of the building.
Hedge, email@example.com, who retired a while ago from the antiques business, now lives in Deep River, where he has a business restoring and rebuilding antique furniture. He also still has some of his old memorabilia, since he's still very fond of the city where he was born.
Hedge says he is delighted with how the weather vane turned out. On a bright day, he says, you should be able to spot the sun glinting on the gold weather vane even coming across the Gold Star Memorial Bridge.
"It is every bit as beautiful as I thought it would be," he told me.
It is. A fine piece of old New London is back. The city's gold banner is flying again.
That's why I would nominate Hedge citizen of the month.
This is the opinion of David Collins.