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McNabb to leave Townsend Board of Selectmen for seminary

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TOWNSEND — One hour into a meeting that was still going strong two hours later, Selectman Colin McNabb made a big announcement.

“I’ll be resigning from the Board of Selectmen in the next couple of weeks,” he said. “I found out Monday I was accepted at St. John’s Seminary in Boston.”

“Hopefully I will have all of your prayers because you’ll be in mine,” the chairman said Tuesday.

Then, it was back to business.

Before the announcement, the board met with Mark Mercurio, the facilities manager. At the spring Town Meeting, the department was reorganized to include responsibilities for additional buildings.

Selectman Gordy Clark asked if the other board members agreed that Mercurio’s position should be raised one grade, from a six to a seven.

Selectman Carolyn Smart said she was OK with that but asked if there was enough money in Mercurio’s budget line for the raise.

The raise would cost about $6,000 for one year, said Town Administrator Andy Sheehan. There is not enough budgeted in his salary line, but funds designated for a part-time employee could be used.

The selectmen then met in executive session with Mercurio to discuss contract negotiations with non-union personnel.

Eric Demas of Melanson, Heath and Company presented the results of the annual audit. “The audit went well,” he said.

The town corrected a long-standing material weakness. For several years, Townsend had a problem with the cash reconciliation process, Demas said. At the end of fiscal year 2014, that was eliminated.

The selectmen also agreed to consider a contract for a whistle blower hotline run through Melanson and Heath. The service will provide training for employees and both a telephone number and online web portal for employees to report problems.

A certified fraud examiner from the auditing firm will then contact the town with advice on how to proceed. The service costs $750 annually. The first year has an additional upfront cost of $750.

The bulk of the meeting was spent in executive session. Labor Counsel Mark Jenkins met with members of the Conservation Commission and the Conservation Agent Leslie Gabrilska to “discuss discipline or complaints or charges against an individual,” according to the agenda.

Jenkins met with the selectmen on July 14 about a Conservation Commission meeting where the police were called to Memorial Hall. He said he could conduct an investigation along with the town administrator to determine if any action needed to be taken.

In other business:

* The Recreation Commission was given the go-ahead to begin removing an exterior ramp and cleaning out the annex building between Memorial Hall and the old library. At McNabb’s request, the permission comes with the condition that before the building is used by children, another mold test is done. The room broke out into applause after the vote was taken.

* The North Middlesex High School building project has a large amount of topsoil that was scraped off that will not be used, Sheehan said. Some has been given to member towns including Townsend and some will possibly be sold as part of the building project.

Follow Anne O’Connor on Twitter and Tout @a1oconnor.