Town of NewSalem Selectboard

Meeting Minutes

March 25, 2019

Stowell Building, New Salem, MA 01355

Convened: 7:00 pm

Present: Randy Gordon, chair, Wayne Hachey, Selectboard; Nancy Aldrich, Town Coordinator; Judith Northup Bennett; Jean Derderian, Historical Commission; Ken Bright;

Selectboard Reviewed & Signed the Following:

Ø Payroll & Vendor Warrants

Ø Appointment to Historical Commission

Ø Arbor Day Proclamation

Ø Letter to Residents of Lovers Lane

Discussion Items

Old Home Day

Judy started off by noting that there really hasn’t been a committee for this for a couple of years now. She certainly has never been appointed to one. Nancy responded that there have been people appointed to a committee. Randy agreed stating that the town can’t function on Old Home Day without a committee. Judy responded that it truly has been a small core of people including herself that have done it. Her group has developed job descriptions and specific details for successfully pulling this off. This year is important since the 1794 Meetinghouse’s troupe is turning 25. There are lots of people willing to volunteer for things on the day, such as cooking, but the planning is the hard part. She suggested that if there has to be an appointed committee that it be the people who do it and that there be better organization. That said she noted that the Recreation Committee is happy to help. So she’s hoping to move forward, but the budget for Old Home Day is very small. Randy recalled that the Old Home Day Committee is accountable to a budget. He noted that the Recreation Committee has a different accounting process as it has some independence with its revolving fund. He suggested that while Recreation is welcome to help in various capacities, the Old Home Day Committee should be preserved and the funding for the event run through that committee. Nancy noted that the committee shouldn’t be an issue to staff if there are already people volunteering otherwise. Judy elaborated that she is trying to help bring more people in to this and to lessen her own involvement. People have to decide what they are willing to do.

Randy responded that the town doesn’t want to drain any one person, but he felt that the Old Home Day Committee should remain. There was a question of the current Old Home Day Committee membership. Nancy reported that on the appointees and noted none objected to the appointment. Randy asked if there is a max or minimum. Nancy reported that there isn’t a max. There have to be at least 3 members, but it can be more. Randy noted that there have to be people in charge and there is a committee established for this purpose. Judy continued to be reluctant to be heavily involved herself personally, but was willing to help see if there are those who are willing to serve. Nancy reminded that there are public funds being expended and there is the Open Meeting Law to contend with and there have to be public records. Randy suggested that perhaps one of the members of the Recreation Committee might be willing to serve on the Old Home Day Committee, perhaps with two other people. Regardless those who are appointed need to be working. So if those on the committee are not doing the work than that’s an issue that needs to be addressed. Randy suggested scheduling a meeting with the Recreation to discuss the matter further as to what they may be willing to do. Whether or not the Old Home Day Committee should be retained remains an open question. The preference would be to continue that committee. Once things are settled, Judy was willing to put together a letter for the New Salem News. Jean stated she would be willing to volunteer, noting that a lot of people are willing to participate. Things need to be sorted out for the committee part of it. The official meetings, minutes, and the like. Nancy reminded that in the past Recreation was less willing to help, so if that has changed, it may change the dynamics.

Update/Maintenance Issues with Old Academy Building

Jean reported on some developments with the Old Academy Building. This includes the Historical Commission potentially taking over some of the management of the building. The Commission has already helped the Trustees of the New Salem Academy with maintenance. There remain ongoing problems like bats that need to be addressed. Others include paint and mold problems. Jean felt that it may be necessary to bring in a professional to deal with the mold in particular. Wayne brought up some issues. One being a lock on the electric box as well as a lock on the basement. Neither thing should be locked due to necessity in emergency situations. Jean promised to relay the message to the Trustees. Jean noted that with the basement there may be liability and that could be the driver behind a lock. Randy suggested pursuing a different kind of lock like a combination one. Jean promised to look into both matters. Randy then asked about the paint that would be utilized in the building and whether it would need to be some kind of special historical paint. Jean responded by outlining the issues in the past with paint and what kind of paint would need to be used. The plaster isn’t falling off, and it may be best to just not paint at this time. The walls really just need to have the mold removed. Randy was concerned about removal of the mold causing damage. Jean responded that it would be done properly to try and ensure against damage.

Vacancy on Highway Department

Nancy reported that the town has hired a new Highway employee. Unfortunately, there is now another opening in the department. Nancy stated that the town will go out to hire again, and has kept on file the applications for the candidates that were not hired in the first round. She will put new advertisements out and hopefully a second new hire will be found. In the meantime, Roger Hamlett has been hired. He has all his licenses and certifications and lives just over the line in Orange. Wayne reminded those present that he would like to find a summer hire to ensure mowing gets done. Randy was amenable to that assuming it works in the budget. Nancy noted that the Treasurer has cautioned that they have to be hired carefully as seasonal to avoid triggering unemployment. It was agreed that idea is worth following up on once the department is fully staffed.

Finalize Annual Town Meeting Date

Nancy reported that June dates have been a problem. So it looks like the town is back to looking at May. It was suggested that the date be May 21st, 2019. Wayne inquired as to the election. Nancy responded that May 6th, 2019 is the date of the Annual Town Election. Wayne felt it a good idea that the meeting be after May 6th so as to have a full Selectboard. Nancy agreed noting that having it earlier than the election would be hard for the Finance Committee. Randy felt that May 21st would likely work best. It doesn’t look like this will be a two-night meeting. Jean asked when the warrant would close. Nancy said it would likely close on April 22nd assuming the meeting is scheduled for May 21st. It was agreed to pursue May 21st. Nancy finished by promising to follow up with all the town officials that need to attend.

Historical Commission

Jean reported that the Commission has a new person interested in joining the Commission. There is a member that was added to the Commission a term ago but was never able to attend meetings. The new person that would replace that Commissioner is named Holly Holden. The Selectboard saw no reason not to appoint Ms. Holden and proceeded to do so.

Arbor Day Proclamation

The Selectboard signed the 2019 proclamation for Arbor Day.

Lovers Lane Letter

This letter is to the residents on Lovers Lane regarding some winter weather and snow plowing.

Conflicts of Interest

Randy brought up the idea of a formal town policy for ensuring conflicts of interest are disclosed. Nancy responded that there is a mechanism in place under MGL. That is the requirement to file disclosures with the Town Clerk. This is part of the Commonwealth’s Ethics Laws. Randy agreed that this is so, but he still felt some kind of process and clarity should be put in place to ensure proper conformance with the existing MGL. The intent should be best price, best quality, etc. This would be to ensure against good old boy networks. Jean noted that there are statutory requirements for Conflicts of Interest, including a test. Randy explained his point a bit more. There is the perception in some cases that some departments are making choices not based on what’s best for the town but due to proximity or existing relationships. Wayne noted that he has always been personally careful when he has done work for the town. This has included disclosures as required under law. Jean asked for a few distinctions. Randy responded by using some examples to flesh those distinctions out. Nancy responded by suggesting that Town Counsel be consulted. Wayne had a few examples of his own and agreed that at some point there has to be some process. It was also suggested that the Commonwealth’s Ethics Commission be consulted.


The Selectboard determined to approve the minutes from March 4, 2019.

A motion to adjourn at 7:51 pm was made by Wayne. The motion was seconded by Randy and passed by majority vote.

Respectfully Submitted

Jakob K. Hamm, Selectboard Clerk