Denmark town manager resigns

By Gail Geraghty

Staff Writer

DENMARK — Denmark Town Manager Dan Merhalski

Dan Merhalski

Dan Merhalski

submitted his resignation May 27 in the wake of a months-long campaign by some residents who want him gone, and who have also arranged for a June 30 recall election against two of the town’s three Board of Selectmen.

Merhalski’s last day will be July 31, in keeping with the 60-day notice in the contract he signed when he was hired eight months ago, on Sept. 29.

“Unfortunately, a very small minority are dictating for the majority in the illogical tradition of a good-old-boy network, and until the majority make their voices known, there’s only so much I can do,” Merhalski said in a Wednesday phone interview.

One action he did take was to suspend, with pay. Code Enforcement Officer Mike Lee, who objected to job performance requirements Merhalski put into place late last year. Merhalski said he sought legal counsel before ordering Lee’s suspension pending an investigation by a third party that is now underway. The third party will submit a report to the town attorney before any further action is taken, he said.

Merhalski said the turmoil in the Town Office may get even worse if voters approve the recall of Selectmen Beverly Caparco and Chairman Richard Mason Jr. The third selectman, Ed Enos, is not seeking reelection and is therefore not being targeted for recall. This Friday, June 5, voters will choose Eno’s replacement. Richard Snow, who is one of the recall petitioners, is running unopposed for the open seat, but there may also be a challenge by write-in candidates.

“I have a great deal of respect for Richard. He’s very civic-minded, and if he is elected it’s not necessarily detrimental” in terms of resolving the issues that have divided the town so severely, Merhalski said. If Caparco and Mason are recalled, he said the one remaining selectman will not be legally able to make any town government decisions, “other than keeping the lights on and paying the bills.”

With Merhalski leaving, the need to decide a course for the immediate future will be greater than ever.

“It’s been kind of like the Wild West out here,” said Merhalski, who is keeping his plans for the future close to the vest. He said “a lot of damage has been done to my reputation” by rumors and innuendos being circulated by only six or seven of the town’s population of just over 1,000 residents.

“There are a great number of good people in the community, and I can only hope that they will eventually take back their town,” Merhalski said.

The recall petitioners, who earlier had unsuccessfully petitioned the board to fire Merhalski, are upset over Merhalski’s management style and the unwillingness of selectmen to respond to their concerns.

 

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