TOWNSEND — A heated Conservation Commission meeting on May 27, which included a visit from the police, will be the subject of an investigation by town counsel.
Police were called at the request of one of the members when a resident who was asked to leave the meeting did not. Following the meeting, the selectmen asked for written reports from people who were there and then asked for counsel’s advice on how to proceed.
The town’s labor counsel, David Jenkins, met with selectmen on Tuesday after reviewing a package of materials sent to him. He said that he would not address specifics of the reports, but would speak generally.
The board, town administrator and town counsel referred to a packet of material that included reports gathered at the request of the selectmen. The reports were not provided to the meeting attendees.
“I didn’t see anything needing serious attention,” Jenkins said. The board could ask town counsel or someone in a supervisory position to conduct an inquiry to determine if any action needed to be taken.
Jenkins said that if he conducted the investigation with the assistance of the town administrator, he expected that it would be immediate and to the point. He would choose who to interview and what to ask.
“I think you’re the right guy to do this,” said Selectman Gordy Clark.
Town administrator Andy Sheehan has relationships with some of the people involved and it may be best for him not to be involved, Clark said.
Sheehan’s role would be to make local arrangements and attend interviews, Jenkins said. He wants to have someone in the interview room with him, as a witness.
The interviews will be tape-recorded, Jenkins said.
The investigation will help determine if remedial work, progressive discipline, a combination of the two or nothing needs to be done about the town employee involved, Jenkins said.
Not everyone involved comes under the selectmen’s authority. “The misbehavior of citizens is beyond your control,” he told the selectmen.
Jenkins also sent a manual to Sheehan that the board might like to review, he said. It contains information on professionalism and how to maintain decorum and control in meetings.
The town may be eligible for training from the counsel’s firm, Kopelman and Paige, Jenkins said.
“I believe for everyone involved, we need remedial training,” Clark said.
The board voted 3-0 to have counsel conduct the investigation with Sheehan’s assistance.
In other business:
* Selectmen allowed the transfer of a beer and wine package store license to Girish Patel, the new owner of the Old Brick Store.
* A joint meeting with the Lunenburg and Mason, N.H. Boards of Selectmen will be planned for August. The selectmen want to discuss the proposed Kinder Morgan gas pipeline lateral that will cut through these towns. Comments are due to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission at the end of August.
* The town will request technical assistance from the Massachusetts Department of Revenue on forming a department of public works. It will also sign a Community Compact application from the state for technical assistance with long-range budget planning, budget forecasting and information technology.
* The town will send a letter to the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities regarding Unitil rate increases. The town strongly opposes the latest increase and does not see the justification, the letter said. It will be signed by Chairman Colin McNabb.
* Based on a report from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, the Town Hall annex needs mold remediation before it can be used by the Recreation Department, Sheehan said. The cost could run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. The Recreation Commission received a copy of the report and permission to get estimates from other contractors. Commissioner Alice Kennedy said she thought the work could be done for much less.
* An executive session was held that included conducting contract negotiations with former nonunion Water Department personnel. After an attendee asked why there would be negotiations with a former employee, Jenkins said it regarded a document.
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