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New Durham town administrator laid off - updated


January 07, 2010
NEW DURHAM — Out-going Selectman Ron Gehl has confirmed that the board voted in a 2-1 decision Monday night, with himself dissenting, to lay off Town Administrator April Whittaker.

Calling the decision "incredibly foolish" from his perspective during a telephone interview on Jan. 7, Gehl declined to comment on his colleagues' reasons for laying Whittaker off, stating that he would prefer to let them speak for themselves.

In an e-mail to The Baysider on Jan. 7, Selectman Terry Jarvis promised to issue a statement later that evening explaining her decision.

Whittaker, whose last scheduled day of work is Jan. 14, was unavailable for comment this week due to illness.

The Baysider will post further information on this situation as it develops.

Selectman Terry Jarvis released the following statement on Friday afternoon:

I was deeply shocked when Ron Gehl resigned Monday night. Having served this Town in many volunteer roles myself since 1979, I can truly appreciate the time commitment Ron has made these past five years as a Selectman, in addition to his previous service on the Planning Board. We all can understand his desire to spend more time with his wife and children. And in this current economic climate, I appreciate the fact Ron, as a business owner, must be available to spend more time focused on his business. While we may have had some differences of opinion, Ron has been more than willing to give the time necessary to serve our community.

In the interim, Dave Bickford and I will continue to work to ensure the needs of the Town are met. Hopefully, at a minimum, we can continue to look to Ron for guidance on environmental issues that face the community.

Throughout this year's budget process, countless questions have been asked and many, many difficult decisions have had to be made. At this point, we are not yet done with that process. Since being elected to the Board of Selectmen, I have heard from numerous New Durham taxpayers who are struggling in this time of economic uncertainty and are barely able to pay their property tax bills.

Town Administrator Whittaker recognized the difficult financial situation we are in. After a lengthy non-public meeting, the content of which by law can not be discussed, the decision was made to lay Ms. Whittaker off effective the close of business January 14, 2010. Selectman Bickford has been charged with investigating sources of part time administrative support to assist the Board of Selectmen and the Town until after the March Town elections when decisions for a more permanent direction can be carefully made.

Brendan Berube can be reached at 569-3126 or bberube@salmonpress.com

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