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Meredith board reorganizes its members following chair dispute


March 31, 2010
MEREDITH — Chuck Palm has been named the new chair of the Board of Selectmen, while newly elected Selectmen Nate Torr took his seat on the board.

The Board of Selectmen met on Friday afternoon to reorganize the board and swear in new Selectmen Torr and Miller Lovett, who was reelected to the board. The reorganization traditionally takes place at the first meeting after town meeting, but the selectmen's schedules required an additional meeting to be called.

Selectman Colette Worsman nominated Palm as the board's chair, a position held for the past two years by Selectman Peter Brothers.

"This has been a very difficult decision," Worsman said, saying to Brothers, "I appreciate you as chair. I think it would do us well to have somebody fresh in that position."

Brothers seconded the motion, voicing his own support for Palm as Chair.

Lovett raised the issue that the chair has traditionally been a position held by the member up for election in the coming year. Lovett said he expected to take the position last year, though took part in the board's decision last year to keep Brothers as chair for a second year.

Lovett has been the vice-chair for two years and said he had expected that he would be named chair this year. Lovett questioned why the process for choosing a chair had changed from that earlier precedent and said he saw it as the changing of a norm.

"I too was going to nominate Chuck after a lot of thought and consideration," Brothers said. Brothers said he is mindful of past practices. "(We) should always take into consideration who might best serve in that capacity."

Brothers also said it is important to look at the talents on the board and how they can be utilized and choose the "person who can best accomplish that mission and that overall goal of leading us."

Brothers supported Worsman's motion and said it is best to move forward.

Worsman said Lovett has "very good" qualifications and is capable and skilled of holding the seat. Worsman said any member of the board based on qualifications would be an excellent choice for the seat.

"I certainly do appreciate the comments that Peter and Colette have stated," Palm said. "If it is the will of the board, I will carry on to the best of my abilities."

Palm said the board faces many issues, including the possibility of SB2 and the motion at Town Meeting to examine the feasibility of Meredith's withdrawal from the Inter-Lakes School District. He said the board has good ethics policy and there will be people available to tackle the issues.

Lovett said he was sure that Palm had the qualifications to lead the board.

"I just think there's a change of dynamics going on and I'm not sure what it means," Lovett said.

Brothers said he respected and understood where Lovett was coming from, and his and Worsman's words were chosen carefully. He said all board members have the ability to contribute in different ways.

"It's a sound nomination and I do think that Chuck can lead us all forward, using the other members of the board in a more effective way than the present chairman has," Brothers said.

Lovett suggested that Palm be made the vice-chair while he take the position as chair, saying he could especially utilize the work of the vice-chair.

"He has my full respect, nothing that I've said is a reflection on Chuck at all," Lovett said, saying he was seeing a shift and was "puzzled what it means."

Lovett amended the motion nominating himself as chair. Lovett and Worsman voted in favor of the amendment, but the rest voted against.

All five selectmen unanimously approved the motion for Palm to serve as chair.

Worsman was also voted as vice-chair.

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