January 30, 2013DALTON — The three selectmen — chairman Victor St. Cyr, vice chairman Kevin and Julia Simonds — voted unanimously at Monday's selectmen's meeting to accept the resignations of Tax Collector-Deputy Town Clerk Jessie Wentworth, who held the elected office for 14 years, and interim Deputy Town Clerk Julieann Rose, who had been appointed by Wentworth.
Longtime elected Road Agent and full-time working foreman Bob Wentworth, husband of Jessie Wentworth, gave the selectmen two weeks' notice, which they also accepted.
When asked by one of the 15 or so people on hand asked what was going on, St. Cyr replied, "Our hands are tied." The town's Concord-based law firm has strongly advised them to say nothing, he explained.
"There is an ongoing investigation," St.Cyr admitted, adding that neither of the Wentworths has been questioned.
In the next few days the board will be at liberty to make "a full disclosure of everything that is legally possible" for them to reveal, he explained.
The board might release these findings by writing a Letter to the Editor or by paying for a half-page in a newspaper to ensure that its statement would be published in its entirely.
"It's not going to go on and on," St. Cyr promised.
The board has scrambled, with the assistance of administrative assistant Amos Bell of Lunenburg, to fill some big holes in the municipal offices.
Charity Blanchette, who works full-time in Lancaster's Town Hall, will fill in part-time for a limited number of hours each week — some on Saturdays — to take on all tax collector duties, once the state has routinely audited the Department of Motor Vehicle transactions. She will also likely take on some town clerk duties. Registered voters filing for town offices must file a declaration of candidacy by 5 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 1.
Vehicle registrations: 6 p.m.-8 p.m. on Wed. and Thurs.; 9 a.m. to noon on Sat. After this week: 6 p.m.-8 p.m. on Thurs.; 9 a.m. to noon on Sat. Tax Collector hours start next week.
Dial 837-2092 to learn the new office hours in the municipal offices.
Most resignations came after longtime Town Clerk Sandy York resigned almost immediately after District Court Judge Paul Desjardins ruled from the bench on Dec. 31, 2012, in the Coös County courthouse in Lancaster that she was not guilty of theft.
Earlier, then-town treasurer Sharon Tupper resigned when York was arrested. The trustees of the trust fund, including York's daughter, Tammy Letson, also resigned, and replacement appointments have been made.
Pointing out to the selectmen that working at town hall very likely had become very "uncomfortable," Kenyon Tuthill said that he would like to start impeachment proceedings or have them all recalled by Town Meeting action. "I spent 25 years as a cop," he said. "You persecuted Sandy York; (that trial) was not a prosecution but a persecution!"
When state Sen. Jeff Woodburn of Dalton, a former town moderator, learned of the latest three resignations as well as what turned out to be a rumor that one selectman had stepped down, he asked for help from the Governor Maggie Hassan, Secretary of State Bill Gardner, and District 1 Councilor Rau Burton.