Newry board names SAD 44 Withdrawal Committee members

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NEWRY — Selectmen appointed three people to the SAD 44 Withdrawal Committee on Tuesday night.

However, when it came time to appoint a selectman to the committee, the process ground to a halt, Administrator Loretta Powers said Wednesday. Questions were raised that prompted the board to get legal advice.

The board appointed Bill Andrews as the member of the public, Bonnie Largess as the school board member and Jim Sysko as the petitioner.

Newry’s withdrawal process began after Sysko circulated a petition, citing the large amount of money Newry pays to SAD 44 and the quality of education their students receive.

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Newry voters decided Sept. 24 to continue the multistep withdrawal process.

Other towns in the district are Bethel, Greenwood, Woodstock and Andover.

Andover residents also voted Sept. 24 to leave the district, but the town will not be out until June 2015.

Board of Selectmen Chairman Wendy Hanscom said she could be on the withdrawal committee, but that prompted questions about the potential for conflict of interest complaints, Powers said. Hanscom is a longtime SAD 44 employee and Telstar Regional High School secretary.

There was also a question about whether Hanscom could even nominate either of the other two selectmen, Gary Wight and Brooks Morton. It was left to Powers to seek legal advice on how to settle the matter. She said she’s contacted a lawyer the town hired to help them through the withdrawal process but hasn’t received a response yet.

When she does, Powers said the board will have a special meeting either Thursday or Monday to appoint a selectman to the committee.

Once that’s done, the SAD 44 board chairman must convene the Newry Withdrawal Committee’s first meeting and have them choose a chairman to run the meetings from then on.

In other business, Powers said a few residents asked the board when the town will fix upper Sunday River Road from the Monkey Brook Road intersection to the Riley Township line. Residents said it is full of potholes and is not safe for people who drive on it.

Powers said selectmen will take it up at budget time, but she expects it will be fixed in 2015, pending a town meeting in March.

Newry has another large road project in the pipeline. That project, estimated to cost $300,000 to $325,000, will reconstruct 1,200 feet of Sunday River Road near the Nordic Knoll subdivision and Letter S swimming hole.

Powers said the board also approved buying a new furnace from Community Energy in Rumford and having it installed in the Bear River Grange Hall. Voters in March approved money to replace the furnace.

tkarkos@sunjournal.com

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