Selectmen, minus Gray, rescind hall rental policy, apologize to town, VFW over rescheduling flap

Comment Print
Related Articles
From left, Selectmen Andy Rawson, Mike Beaulieu, Tom Gray and Town Administrator Heather Thibodeau. (You Tube image)

MILTON - If the Milton VFW were looking for an apology from selectmen for having to reschedule their Toys for Tots party, well, they got it, but not from the chairman of the board whose scheduling of a family party conflicted with the already scheduled VFW event.

In fact, far from a mea culpa on Monday, Milton Selectmen Chair Tom Gray was defiant in the face of criticism from former Selectman Bob Bridges, who had accused Gray of an abuse of power when he was said to have forced the VFW to postpone their event from Dec. 11 to Dec. 18 so he could have the hall for his private family event.

The rescheduling forced town workers to shuttle kids' presents back and forth between the downstairs Emma Ramsey Center and the selectmen's meeting room upstairs after the change was made.

While Selectmen Mike Beaulieu and Andy Rawson both apologized to the town and the VFW for what happened, Gray argued he did nothing wrong.

"Nothing was done outside of policy or inappropriate," he said on Monday during the selectmen's comments portion of the regularly scheduled meeting.

Gray also insisted he never directed Town Administrator Heather Thibodeau to intercede on his behalf in asking Rec Dept. head Karen Brown to force the VFW to give up their Dec. 11 date so that Gray could have his event that night.

Thibodeau said on Monday that she notified Brown about a possible conflict, but never directed her to postpone the VFW event in favor of Gray's.

Brown said after learning of the conflict she spoke with Gray, who said it would be hard to reschedule his private party as people were coming from all over the state.

Brown then called the VFW, who agreed to defer its party till Dec. 18, which was Sunday.

Whether coincidentally or not, Rawson made a motion during discussion of Thibodeau's role in the rescheduling that no selectman can direct the town administrator to do anything without the knowledge and backing of the board.

Gray said that wasn't necessary as no selectman has any more power than another, but still agreed to the measure.

Beaulieu also apologized for making the Nov. 28 motion to open the Emma Ramsey Center up for any town resident, since after talking with other town officials, he learned it was somewhat reckless since important town records are housed downstairs at the center.

"I should have done my homework," Beaulieu admitted. "I didn't think how this would impact town hall."

What was remarkable, however, was that Beaulieu asked Gray four straight times what was the purpose of the policy change that was made on Nov. 28 regarding town resident's ability to use the hall for free. Gray never answered his question.

As Bridges had predicted, Beaulieu and Rawson rescinded the Emma Ramsey Center rental policy that Beaulieu had proposed on Nov. 28, leaving it unchanged from before. Selectmen all agreed the policy should be updated, with resident John Katwick urging them to do so quickly and get it up on the website so residents can better understand it.

The current policy, the one in place prior to Nov. 28, needs to be updated, Brown said, since it includes among other things free use of Lockhart Field, the former town landfill seen as a pollution hazard, now a Brownfield Grant site.

Meanwhile, Bridges fumed that his Right to Know requests had gotten short shrift at Town Hall.

"I requested 16 items (on a RTK request)," he said. "but instead of getting information I wanted all I got back was a reply that the Right to Know doesn't require the town to answer questions, just to furnish documents. That's pretty pathetic."

"Let's get back on topic," Gray quipped.

"I am on topic," Bridges replied tersely.

For his part, Gray, in addressing the concerns voiced on social media and across town the past several weeks, blamed "misinformation on Facebook" for confusion over his role in the VFW having to reschedule its party.

"I never directed anybody to talk to Karen," he said. "And the Toys for Tots was never canceled, it was rescheduled."

Referring to posts on Facebook that said his role in the dustup was an abuse of power, he said, "It was a birthday party for a 4-year-old girl. How is that an abuse of power?"

And to Bridges who called on him to resign, he said, "I am not going to resign. I'm no quitter."

Gray also said he didn't have the policy changed to make it free for him, and added he paid a $100 for an insurance rider for liability.

At one point, asked if he knew the town had had a policy all along, Gray said, "I knew we had a policy, but I didn't know what it said."

Read more from:
Top Stories
Comment Print
Powered by Bondware
News Publishing Software

The browser you are using is outdated!

You may not be getting all you can out of your browsing experience
and may be open to security risks!

Consider upgrading to the latest version of your browser or choose on below: