O’Connell named permanent Wiscasset town manager
John O’Connell was named Wiscasset's town manager, after selectmen met in an executive session Tuesday night.
O’Connell has been interim manager since Marian Anderson resigned in January. He had served in several county jobs, including County Administrator and County Commissioner, and as a Boothbay Harbor selectman. He was also Wiscasset’s first town manager, serving as an interim one from March to May 2002, while the town advertised for a permanent one.
According to Chair Judy Colby, O’Connell has been hired for one year with the potential for more.
Earlier, in the open select board meeting , O’Connell said town employees were treated with disrespect, and in fact, in some cases, abused verbally and even, in one case, physically.
That case involved a mowing worker and Francoise McCoy, 66, owner of Marston House,. Officials said McCoy objected to the noise and asked him to stop mowing. When he told her to telephone his supervisor, Ted Snowden, at Public Works, she allegedly hit him, Snowden said. McCoy was arrested for assault.
However, O’Connell said there have been other inexcusable interactions in which citizens have treated town workers poorly. “This will not be acceptable,” he said. “I will take whatever measures I must take to assure the safety of our staff.”
Also Tuesday, several people involved with the Girl Scouts discussed the fate of the town-owned Scout Hall. The board was unaware anyone was using it. The speakers said at least four Girl Scout troops are using the upstairs, which the girls have decorated and cleaned up. According to the discussion, the last Boy Scout troop to use the downstairs left a mess, which one of the Girl Scout troops also cleaned up. They asked that the Scout Hall be preserved for scouting.
The board said there would have to be some way to let the town know who was using the hall and when, but currently, they had no plans to sell the property. Both scouting organizations inform their state organization, but not the town, of where and when the groups meet. The new plan is to keep the town in the loop. Snowden said he has checked out the building, and fixed several minor code violations, such as installing new smoke detectors, but that the building is now in good shape.
Assessor Ellery Bane said property was at some point illegally transferred to people who thought they were buying land in town; the deeds were worthless, and the town agreed to reimburse the people for property taxes they had paid in good faith.
Code Enforcement Officer Bruce Mullins asked for guidance on an old problem for the town, an illegal junkyard on the property of Albert and Starr Pinkham. The Pinkhams had been in the court system for refusal to bring their property into compliance with town ordinances since 2000, and have paid fines oupward of $100,000. Mullins was not certain what to do since the couple has not cleaned up the property, and he believed entering the property would prove dangerous. The Pinkhams have asked for more time to solve the problem due to Albert Pinkham’s medical issues. The board voted to seek help from the town attorney.
Selectmen approved the appointment of Phil DiVece to the Historic Preservation Commission. They approved business licenses for Laura Bryer, DBA Coastal Clean by Laura B; Jessica Deshiro and Gabe McCoy, DBA as Mammy’s Bakery; Carolyn Adams, DBA as Stage Left Photography; and Lincoln County Dental LLC. They also approved spending from two scholarship funds for high school students graduating this year.
Selectmen set July 1 as the date sewer rates will increase by 30 percent. They agreed to allow septage fees to increase immediately.
The town accepted Ransom Engineering's bid for the work at the coal ponds at Mason Station. While the bid was $55,000 over the amount of a grant, for a total of $455,000, Ransom intended to use some of the town’s staff and material as in-kind contributions and to help the town get more grant funding to make up the difference.
June 4 marked Bob Blagden’s last meeting as selectman. On June 13, the winners of two seats in the June 11 election will be sworn in at 6 p.m.