Coburn appointed Harrison Interim Manager

By Gail Geraghty
Staff Writer

HARRISON — Town Clerk Judy Colburn was appointed Harrison’s Interim Town Manager Tuesday to fill in for former Town Manager Brad Plante, whose last day was Friday.

Colburn, the town’s clerk for many years, was chosen by three of the five selectmen, with member Kathy Laplante opposed. Laplante said she felt Administrative Assistant Mary Tremblay was more knowledgeable on the duties of a town manager, having assisted Plante throughout his two-year tenure.

Her motion to appoint Tremblay, however, died for lack of a second. Member Bill Goodwin was not present for the vote.

Chairman Bill Winslow and Vice Chairman Lisa Villa will meet to discuss Colburn’s compensation for taking on the temporary position, which she will assume in addition to her town clerk duties. The salary will be voted on at the board’s next meeting.

“Judy has always been the second in command as far as the town of Harrison goes. She’s very capable, and I have a lot of faith in her,” said Villa.

The town has received 46 applications for Plante’s replacement, either on a part-time or full-time basis. Of these, 23 are interested in the full-time job, 11 seek an interim position, and 13 would like to be considered for both. The board decided Tuesday to take the next two weeks to read over the applications, and each member will choose their top 10 candidates. After that, the board will hold a closed workshop session to further cull the list, and that meeting may involve department heads and members of the community.

Planning Board Chairman Barry Smith urged the board to form a hiring committee and “put some effort into it.” At the same time that the board will be considering who to hire, they also have agreed to hold a public meeting to see if there is any interest in changing the form of government from a town manager form to a selectmen-town meeting form of government with an administrative assistant. That meeting will be held at the 7 p.m. start of the board’s regular meeting on Oct. 19.

Harbormaster doubts

Andy Derstine led off a lively debate over the sorry state of harbormaster functions in town following the resignation of Harbormaster Gary Pendexter.

He said that in dealing with a mooring issue this summer he discovered that there was a “glaring lack of oversight and accountability” by the town in keeping tabs on the harbormaster’s duties, and urged a complete overhaul of the policies and procedures in place for the job.

“You need to do an audit of abandoned or resale of moorings to make sure there was no inappropriate conduct. I feel that strongly,” Derstine said.

“I think you’re right,” Winslow said, adding that it was no reflection on Gary Pagel, who has agreed to fill in since Pendexter’s departure. Smith suggested that the town consider amending the Mooring Ordinance to charge everyone who has a mooring the same fee, which would make the harbormaster job self-sustaining.

“The lakefront property owners are going to put their hackles up over this. They can put up a dock, but they don’t have the right (to do anything) above that,” he said.

Board member Bill Goodwin said he didn’t think it was fair that taxpayers were subsidizing part of the harbormater’s job, currently paying $7,000 a year, when only $3,000 a year has been earned from mooring fees. Sharon Wilson, a lakefront owner, suggested that if moorings were more closely accounted for in the town office, the town might find that there was enough money to pay for the program. As the assistant town clerk, Wilson said she knows of situations of residents in Bridgton and Naples that have moorings in the Harrison part of Long Lake and do not pay for moorings. Her husband, Ken Wilson, added, “We have been very, very lax in even having a job description for the harbormaster, which is the basis for developing accountability.”

In other action, the board:

• Heard a complaint from building contractor Susan Duchaine that she was not treated fairly by Harrison Code Enforcement Officer John Wentworth over a setback dispute involving a house she has built in town. Because of the dispute, she said, the bank is holding up the sale of the house, and she has been waiting a month for the town’s board of zoning appeals to come up with a quorum so her concerns can be heard. The board promised to try to resolve the issue. Wentworth was not present for the discussion.

• Discussed the need to change the punch card system at the town’s transfer station. The system was put into place to replace the two free weeks a year of free dumping for non-garbage items, but has been costing the town more than it should, said Laplante, who is working on the issue. She and Goodwin will work on recommendations on how to improve the system.

• Formally voted to adopt Harrison EMS First Responders as a unit of the fire department, under the direction of Fire Chief Scott Andrews.

• Agreed to have Winslow sign a letter of engagement with the town’s current auditor to conduct the annual audit, and consider putting the contract out to bid for the following year.

• Agreed to designate as historic landmarks Deertrees Theatre, the Carlson homestead and fruit house, Scribner’s Mill and Scribner’s homestead. Villa said this is not a final list, but was brought to the board at the recommendation of Marilyn Hatch, owner of Scribner’s homestead.

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