ASHBY — Emotions ran high at the Board of Selectmen’s meeting Wednesday night over anonymous letters in town questioning the management of the Fire Department.
The letters, dated Oct. 4 and Oct, 24, were sent to residents all over town. The Oct. 24 letter criticized the response time for the town’s ambulance during business hours.
Currently, there are two full-time staffers in the department. One is Fire Chief Bill Seymour and the other is firefighter Wanda Goodwin. The remaining personnel are call firefighters.
Typically, the Oct. 24 letter claims, the second full-time officer is at the station during the day while not on calls, restocking the ambulance and doing equipment checks. Instead, it alleges, both full-time firefighters are riding around together in the same car, leaving the station unmanned.
Selectman Janet Flinkstrom said it is the board’s policy not to address anonymous letters.
“Anybody can write a bunch of lies and send them,” she said. “The policy of the Board of Selectmen is if it’s an anonymous letter and there is no name we will not address it.”
Selectman Mike McCallum agreed, saying he didn’t see the merit in discussing the letter.
“It’s not an issue for the board. If something wants to write something to us, sign your name or show up, but we won’t deal with an anonymous letter.”
Seymour was not at the meeting.
Selectman Steve Ingerson said he did not see the letter before the meeting, but had heard about it. He said he felt anytime mail comes into Town Hall for members, they should be notified immediately.
“This letter is dated Oct. 24 and I’m just seeing it now,” he said. “I’ve always been given letters when they come in, not two weeks later. We have to take a look at how our ambulance and EMT service runs. It needs to be run more efficiently. I hear calls all the time. We cannot sit on our hands and do nothing.”
Flinkstrom did not agree or disagree with Ingerson’s statement, but said that unless there was a name with the complaint, the board’s hands are tied.
“I can write all the hate mail I want and not sign it. If they were too cowardly to sign their name to it, it can’t be true,” she said.
Resident Lillian Whitney got up to read from a prepared statement on the issue, but McCallum and Flinkstrom would not let her finish speaking.
Flinkstrom told Whitney that because it was not signed there was nothing they could do. McCallum, meanwhile, kept making a motion to adjourn the meeting, but did not get a second from either of the other two members.
Whitney’s statement said, in part, that all three members of the board needed to be made aware of the letters at the same time. She made copies of them and left them with each member.
She said that whether or not the incidents happened, it needs to be looked into and not swept under the rug.
Follow Katina Caraganis on Tout and Twitter @kcaraganis.