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Thomaston debates hiring policy

By Christine Simmonds | Sep 15, 2020
Photo by: Christine Simmonds Thomaston Select Board at their Sept. 14 meeting.

Thomaston — A resident questioned if Thomaston violated a town ordinance by interviewing and hiring town employees without the Personnel Committee. Town Manager Kara George says she has hiring and firing power as part of her position.

During the Select Board meeting Sept. 14, George discussed interviewing candidates for a Public Works position. George said one candidate stood out, and the matter would be on the next agenda.

Rod Grindell questioned why the Personnel Committee was not part of this process. Grindell is a current member of several board and committees, including the Personnel Committee.

Select Board Chairman Pete Lammert said the committee was put aside for the time being.

Grindell said the committee was put together as a town ordinance, and could not be changed without a Town Meeting vote.

George said she discussed the matter with town attorney Sarah Newell, and was advised that the committee contradicted the Maine Town Manager Plan.

Grindell said he “vehemently” disagreed with that decision. “You can’t ignore town ordinance,” he added.

In an interview Sept. 15, George said the committee can make recommendations on hiring and firing, and the ultimate decision is made by the Select Board. She added that COVID-19 made group meetings difficult, and the decision for hiring Town Clerk Melissa Stevens was also made without the Personnel Committee.

“We can’t just get rid of an ordinance,” agreed George, but the Town Manager Plan states she has hiring and firing power. George added that the Personnel Committee could exist for union matters and to review employee policies.

The town ordinance states the committee will review applications for town employee positions “upon notification by the Town Manager.” It also states the Town Manager makes the final decision for recommending a candidate to the board for approval.

In other business, Owen Shugard of Union requested to use the Thomaston Green to hold a pop-up antique show.

Shugard said each vendor would have their own open tent, spaced six feet apart with room for social distancing. He also said the vendors would be locals, and would not include any people from out-of-state or from Southern Maine.

Shugard said the event would likely be Sept. 26 or Oct. 3, and would run from 8 a.m. to 3 or 4 p.m. The event will be advertised in local newspapers and a temporary sign will be up the day of the event to direct people on where to go and where to park.

Residents John Howard and Susan Lindley-Howard asked to purchase 50 feet of land behind their property on the Thomaston Green. Lindley-Howard said the purpose was to provide some privacy from any developments put on the Green near their property.

George said she would contact them via email about next steps. She added that a survey of the land is required.

The item will be discussed at a future board meeting. Selling town property must go before voters in a Town Meeting.

During public comment Grindell said he was concerned about the Appeals Board meeting regarding the Crematorium. He suggested changing the appeals form to indicate there are only two valid reasons to appeal. “Check box A or check box B,” he said.

The board approved installing a CMP meter at the Watts Block building for a renter.

Jo Ann Hoppe will be renting space in the building for her Blueberry Moose gift shop. Hoppe will be paying her own electric bill, and requested that a bathroom be installed.

Board member Bill Hahn said all renters in the building would be paying their own electricity.

The board approved a Municipal Credit Card Use Policy and Procedures for town employees. George said the cards would only be used if necessary, and would be provided to each department head.

Thomaston Cafe was approved to renew their on-premises license to sell wine, beer and liquor.

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