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Castleberry Fairs

County Commission meeting gets heated – by pellet boilers


Controversy over whether or not Asha Kenney was invited to breakfast


January 26, 2012
OSSIPEE — An explosive county commissioner's meeting on Jan. 18 had the chairman calling for a sheriff's deputy after one citizen went on a tirade over a breakfast invitation and the installation of pellet boilers at the nursing home.

Wakefield resident Steve Brown, a regular at commissioners' meetings, accused Chairman David Sorensen of lying about who was invited to the January Mount Washington Valley Economic Council (MWVEC) Eggs and Issues business forum in North Conway, apparently upset because Commissioner Asha Kenney was the only one on the three-member board not personally invited. In a five minute "he-said, she-said" with Brown's booming voice gradually escalating to the point that Commissioner Dorothy Solomon had to bang her fist on the table several times as a gavel.

"You wanna start slamming stuff, Commissioner Solomon? I can play that game too," bellowed an enraged Brown.

By the end of the shouting match, it was still unclear who received invitations and who didn't, and who was supposed to invite who. As it turned out, Kenney called the MWVEC Director and found out she indeed was invited. Kenney did not attend the forum though since the road conditions were slippery that morning and she decided not to make the trek to Conway from her home in Wakefield.

Pellet boilers

Commissioners voted Jan. 9 to award the pellet boiler installation contract in the amount of $375,000 to the sole bidder, Bonnett, Page, and Stone (BPS), who will oversee the project and hire the subcontractors.

Barry Dodier, a plumbing and heating contractor with First Response who works out of Conway told commissioners he was "stunned" that no other bids were submitted for the installation of two pellet boilers for the new nursing home. He said he was stunned by the price and estimates BPS will walk away with a six-figure profit on the job. "Bonnet, Page, and Stone is a mason contractor that's now bidding heat…When they did the addition on the Paul School, they were mason contractors and now they're playing in the big boy league," said Dodier. He added that there is no way it should take three to four months for the boiler installation as BPS estimates. He told commissioners he could have the boilers installed and the heat running in two days.

Sorensen told Dodier the commissioners put the project out to bid a second time after only one bid was received, with the same result.

Former commissioner Chip Albee said BPS would provide competent oversight for the completion of the project. He said they have proven themselves by the recently completed nursing home project coming in $2 million under budget.

Brown has asked for an audit of the pellet boiler project. "I will get an audit whether the commissioners want to give it to me willingly or I have to force the issue," said an adamant Brown.

Grievance

As reported previously, a county employee has filed a grievance, citing Kenney's "conduct" as the cause. On Jan. 18 Sorensen released the name of the attorney whose services have been retained to investigate the merit of the grievance – Dan Schwarz of the firm Jackon Lewis LLP. That firm's Web site describes Schwarz as "a trial attorney with over 20 years of experience defending employers in state and federal court and in private arbitration proceedings. His practice includes advising private and public sector employers and educational institutions on all aspects of labor and employment law. Mr. Schwarz is an experienced mediator and is adept at assisting employers in the resolution of employment disputes."

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