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Personalities clash as new members join county commissioners

January 09, 2019
OSSIPEE — The first meeting of the new board of county commissioners got off to a rocky start, and ended with the county attorney requesting the commissioners' blessing to launch an investigation into internal harassment allegations.

Terry McCarthy of Conway beat out Mark Hounsell, also of Conway, for the commissioner's seat in the November election. David Babson of Ossipee ran unopposed and retained his seat. Both were sworn in with other county officials at a ceremony Jan. 2 at Carroll County Superior Court.

Then it was off to the weekly commissioner's meeting that started with the election of officers. Chairman Amanda Bevard retained her position after being nominated by McCarthy but opposed by Babson. McCarthy will serve as vice-chairman despite opposition by Babson. He will serve as clerk despite his attempt to have Bevard serve in that position.

There were routine matters handled during the 48-minute meeting, but it took another awkward turn when County Administrator Ken Robichaud left his seat at the table to read a statement from the pubic comment gallery. His remarks were in response to comments New Hampshire State Rep. Glenn Cordelli (R-Tuftonboro) made at the Dec. 20 commissioners' meeting. At the meeting, Cordelli noted that he has witnessed what he thinks is intimidation and abuse of power exhibited by county administration, including the commissioners, toward other elected officials. Robichaud dismissed Cordelli's comments as baseless, false and incorrect and that it's time to start anew.

Cordelli said that while he is all in favor of cutting budgets, doing so as a method of "retaliation" is unacceptable. Earlier in December, both Registrar of Deeds Lisa Scott and County Attorney Michaela Andruzzi had their proposed 2019 department budgets cut by the commissioners on the recommendation of Robichaud. Both complained to the commissioners that they were not given the courtesy of being involved in the budget reduction conversation. Robichaud adamantly denied the cuts were retaliation though there has been noticeable tension between the women, Babson, Hounsell and Robichaud since they questioned errors in their paychecks last year.

The Jan. 2 meeting ended with Andruzzi telling the commissioners she has become aware of allegations of harassment in the workplace and asked them to allow her to hire an attorney to investigate. She was asked to put her concerns in writing and return to the Jan. 9 commissioners' meeting for a non-public session to discuss.

Martin Lord Osman
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