Chesterville selectmen sign new bank letters, but questions remain

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CHESTERVILLE — Selectmen voted 3-2 Thursday night to sign new letters advising TD Bank and Franklin Savings Bank that the town has changed treasurers.

Chairman Tyler Jenness, Edward Hastings IV and Ross Clair signed the letters; Vice Chairman Tiffany Estabrook and Matt Welch did not.

A previous letter to the banks, written by Estabrook, advised that Erin Norton had been hired as interim treasurer on April 13. Estabrook said she was unaware at the time that the letter had to be signed by a least three selectmen.

Hastings then visited selectmen individually and got their signatures, and he and Jenness accompanied Norton and former Treasurer Olive Couture to the banks to complete the changeover. 

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There is confusion over whether Hastings and Jenness going to the banks constituted illegal meetings of the Board of Selectmen.

Brenda Kielty, Maine public access ombudsman from the Attorney General’s Office, previously told Estabrook the signatures were invalid and an illegal meeting had occurred.

“The board did not vote for Jenness and Hastings to go to the banks. Even though the signatures were collected individually, the selectmen’s signatures on the letters give the appearance that a meeting was held,” Estabrook said at Thursday night’s meeting.

This week, Jenness spoke with Richard Flewelling, assistant director of Maine Municipal Association Legal Services.

“Flewelling doesn’t feel the board did anything illegal,” Jenness said. “We voted to change treasurers and part of that is dealing with the bank.”

“No one has convinced me what we did was either right or wrong,” Clair said.

“Was signing the letter the illegal meeting or was it when Tyler and I went to the bank? It’s not clear,” Hastings said.

“We do the best we know how,” Clair said. “There was no intent to do wrong. We will make mistakes.”. 

“What’s done is done. You can’t change that, but you can adjust,” former Selectman Chairman Guy Iverson said at Thursday’s meeting. 

“You have a chance most boards don’t,” he said. “You have five fresh minds. Please don’t squander that. If you share equally, you can take this town far.”

“There is more important work to do,” Clair said. “There was no intent. I apologize for the inadequacies of this board.”

pharnden@sunmediagroup.net

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