May 14, 2014NEW DURHAM — The New Durham Board of Selectmen held some rather lengthy conversations on a variety of topics during its meeting on Monday, May 5, and as a result the meeting nearly went until early Tuesday morning.
The meeting was adjourned after four hours and 42 minutes, and a heavy topic of discussion was former Fire Chief Peter Varney and the administrative leave of Valerie and Marc Behr.
Gregory Anthes questioned why the former chief was removed from his position, and questioned Chairman David Swenson why felt why he wouldn't support bringing Varney back as the chief.
Swenson said he felt the town needed to go in another direction for the fire department.
Anthes also asked Swenson why he wasn't in favor of member David Bickford's idea to bring back Varney as the fire chief.
There was discussion with the interim Fire Chief Kevin MacCaffrie about terminating the Behrs, and he explained that he felt putting them on administrative leave until the matter could be investigated further was the way to go.
The pair was originally terminated, but then a decision was made to put them on administrative leave. Swenson said that the same issues are still in play and he felt that MacCaffrie should come forward with his recommendations on how to handle the issue.
He stated that if there is recommendation for termination and the individuals have an objection then they would need to re-request a public hearing.
Dot Veisel came before the board and distributed copies of a letter she addressed to Bickford in response to the ethics committee questions
Veisel said that the ethics committee is already working on changes and recommendations for the policies and procedures, and plan to present them at selectmen's meeting in June.
The board approved increasing the wetland permit fee from $17 to $18 effectively immediately. The reason for this increase is that the cost for advertising and registering have gone up.
Swenson talked about public input at board meetings and felt that members of the public were given more than enough time. He stated at the last board meeting, public input took up 16 percent of the total of the meeting. He asked that any one individual be limited to five minutes.
Jeff Kratovil then presented a seven-page letter that he asked the board to review at their leisure. His points included: having the Pledge of Allegiance as part of the meeting at the beginning, questioning the limiting of public input to five minutes, the termination of the fire chief and the reappointment of Ellen Phillips to the ethics committee. Kratovil had additional comments, which he presented at the end of the meeting.
Janis Anthes also questioned the termination of Valerie and Marc Behr during public input.
The board approved accepting the revaluation contract as amended, with several pieces of additional language added to the contract by Swenson.
Swenson and the board discussed the issues with fire department and how to handle things moving forward. There was question on whether the interim chief had the authority to terminate employees, as previously discussed above.
Bickford spoke about nominating Varney for the position of fire chief and suggested voting about it at the next board meeting.
The board approved the investment policy for the town of New Durham.
The board reviewed the issue of impact fees for the school and made a motion to approved purchase order for a school impact fee updated in the amount of $3,500 to waive the town's purchase policy on the issue.
The board approved accepting the timber rates suggested for the central region of New Hampshire from April 1 to Sept. 31. The board reviewed several letters and had a brief discussion about adopting a weapons policy for town staff.
The board reviewed a policy that Alton had recently adopted regarding weapons and agreed to look into matter further at a future meeting.
Member Terry Jarvis suggested that Town Administrator Jeremy Bourgeois contact the town employees and see what their feeling on the issue are.
The board had a lengthy discussion about the welfare guidelines, and a finalized version of the guidelines will be brought before the board at the next meeting.
The board approved the minutes from the April 21 meeting.
The next scheduled meeting of the New Durham Board of Selectmen is on Monday, May 19, at 7 p.m., at the New Durham Town Hall.
Tim Croes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 569-3126