Developer says punch was unprovoked

BETHEL — The brother and business partner of a man involved in fisticuffs with the town's code enforcement officer at a local
restaurant Thursday says the dispute is based on a long-standing issue
of town officials favoring some road developers over others.

Ron Savage, the brother of Rick Savage, who was punched in the face
by Code Enforcement Officer Robert Folsom at the Crossroads Diner & Deli on Route 2, said
his brother did not provoke the attack. Ron Savage said Rick would not
talk to the press on the advice of his lawyer.

Francis Dumont, another local developer and contractor, said he
witnessed the altercation and was shocked to see Folsom punch Rick
Savage.

"Bob's a good guy and (the Savage brothers) are my competition," Dumont
said. "But in this case I've got to tell you what I saw and I think it
could have all been avoided."

Dumont said people will think it was provoked by Rick Savage but that's not what he saw.

Dumont said he arrived at the restaurant after Folsom and Savage, and
when he walked in the two men were talking in a conversational tone.

"It was not real heated, but I said to them, 'Hey guys, you
shouldn't be talking business at the restaurant,'" Dumont recalled Friday.

He said Savage was sitting at the counter with his stool turned to
face Folsom, who was sitting at a nearby table. The men appeared to be
having a disagreement over a silt-fence, which is used to help prevent
erosion on road-building projects. "At one point Rick turned around
with his back toward Folsom and said, 'You're right, I'm wrong.'" 

Dumont said he believed the disagreement would have ended right there
but Folsom kept speaking to Savage and referenced a phone call Savage
may have made to him. Folsom told Savage if he ever called and spoke to
him that way again he would "shut down his jobs."

According to Dumont, Savage then turned toward Folsom and, uttering
an obscenity, made two steps toward Folsom. Dumont said Savage did
not appear to be threatening, but Folsom then stood up, walked toward
Savage and punched him in the face.

"Bob is a really nice guy but it appeared he just lost it," Dumont
said. "He's a great guy and a really good code enforcer, too, but there
was no need for that — he should have got up and left."

Ron Savage said he and his brother had been "holding (the code
officer's) feet to the fire" over why roads being built by their
competitors were not held to the same standards as the roads their
company builds. Ron Savage, who was not at the diner when the altercation occurred, said he thinks that's what set Folsom off.

"We've been fighting with words and he couldn't stand it any longer," Ron Savage said.

"We had been putting pressure on him to make them build their roads to
standards," Ron Savage said. He alleged that one road builder, also a town
selectmen, was often allowed to build substandard roads and that Folsom
would sign off on the roads allowing house lots to be sold.

"It would be like having two baseball teams playing a game and one
team gets two strikes while the other gets three," Ron Savage said. 

He said it costs more to build roads to standards so their company has to charge more for house lots in their various
subdivisions.

But Town Manager Jim Doar, who had his home built by the Savages
in one of their subdivisions, said the brothers haven't been treated
any differently than other developers in town. He said the road standards
are enforced by a third-party engineer and not the code enforcement
officer.

Doar also said the police report on the incident included statements
from Folsom and Rick Savage with opposing stories and each man blaming
the other for the altercation. As the incident remains under
investigation, the report was not being made available, Doar said. It had been
forwarded to the district attorney's office for review. No arrests were
made by police on the day of the altercation. 

Doar also corrected an error in a Sun Journal report Thursday, saying he did
not speak to Rick Savage about the incident but garnered his
information from the police report.

He did speak with Folsom Thursday, but only because Folsom was a town
employee. Doar said Folsom's account of the incident involves Rick
Savage charging the length of the lunch counter at Folsom. Doar also said
Folsom was expected to return to work on Monday and whether he is
disciplined for his actions depends on the outcome of the
investigation.

Ron Savage said he and his brother
asked that state police take over the investigation because the
incident involves a town employee and they feel the town police may be
biased.

Doar confirmed that the brothers made that request, but the police report was already in
the hands of the district attorney, who would determine whether any
charges would be brought.

Phone messages left for Folsom were not returned Friday.

sthistle@sunjournal.com

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Comments

 's picture

The savages got ran out of

The savages got ran out of this town many years ago, Then they got ran out of the folk's, an now ther back with ther nose stuck in everywaya. Dont get me wrong, rick is a good, hard worker,but has his moments, an for u ron soprano, Im the god father!

 's picture

Hi SLD, You should also hold

Hi SLD,
You should also hold yourself to a higher standard being a member of the towns budget committee. I didn't say that you were in financial trouble, I said perhaps. Big difference. I know nothing about the construction of roads in the town of Bethel, I leave that up to those who know what they are supposed to be doing and inspecting. From what I read from the article, the Town Manager is the one that said all developer's are treated equally so I took my info from there. In the paper you had said a selectman who is a developer. Now you have personally named him in your comments. I am just suggesting that perhaps you might want to be careful with who you name, because no names were given in the paper and if you are accusing this person of unfair treatment by the town, there could end up a liable suit. I have known you also for quite awhile, and I have nothing personally against you, I think everyone needs to let whoever deal with all this deal with it. If you have issues with this other developer than you should take it up with the town instead of publicly in the paper. What will be will be.

 's picture

Hey Ozweego. Retired banker

Hey Ozweego. Retired banker of 30 years and was very good at what I did.

 's picture

You all should try to

You all should try to remember that the Savages are attached to other family members. Maybe you're mistaking the message that they are trying to convey. They are passionate about their work and the standards that they assumed Bethel had. It's sad to see that it has come to this point. Maybe you should stop pointing fingers and look at the facts.

 's picture

If Mr. Folsom went after Mr.

If Mr. Folsom went after Mr. Savage from behind, how did he punch him in the face? From what I understand, both of the Savages know how to complain, threaten and other interesting things that should be obvious to their reputations. There are other options than Savages.

 's picture

I have to say that the

I have to say that the objectivity of candiceanne was very good. If someone reading this article garnered the differences in the stories, then what will a lawyer do. I think that perhaps the Savage's are starting to feel the squeeze that everyone else has been feeling and have overextended themselves and the pressure is getting to them. This is also a long standing argument with the Savage's and the Town. They always cry wolf when they are backed into a corner. With all the developer's in the town of Bethel you don't hear any of the other ones doing this type of stuff. The town is also correct in not commenting or disciplining their CEO until all the facts are in. You have to stand behind your employees until proven otherwise and I hope the town does this.

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