Peru board consulting attorney about $2,000 fee

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PERU — Selectmen decided Monday to contact their attorney about a $2,000 consultant’s fee listed in the Friends of Peru Elementary School’s income and expense report.

Selectman Kevin Taylor said the spending possibly violates the contract between the town and the group, which uses the former schoolhouse for community activities. The contract ends in June.

Taylor made a motion to “seek an attorney’s advice on wording and actions being done for the contract.” It was approved.

Board members agreed the contract is, as Taylor put it, too “loosely worded,” which he said is not fair to either party.

The town owns the building and is responsible for repairs and maintenance. The group is responsible for insurance and managing programs held there. It raises money through fundraisers, grants, fees from events and rent from groups.

Its mission is to preserve the historic building and transform it into a community center.

Last May, a state fire investigator inspected the building after pictures and complaints were brought to the board by a resident. The inspection report noted the lack of a hood, duct or extinguishing system in the kitchen, improper or missing handrails and guardrails for stairways, and inoperative emergency lights, among other things.

The Fire Marshal’s Office also required the group to get a permit, changing building’s use from education to a multiuse community center.

The board agreed Monday to send a letter to the group acknowledging receipt of the income and expenses report, and to ask that those using the building maintain the safety standards required, such as shoveling walkways and having adequate parking.

In other business:

• The board voted to adopt a proclamation to “go gold” in September, in observance of childhood cancer awareness month, and in honor of Team Hailey Hugs, a Bethel nonprofit devoted to assisting families battling childhood cancer. Team Hailey Hugs was inspired by Hailey Steward, who passed away last year at the age of 10 after a five-year fight with leukemia;

• It was announced the terms of Selectmen John Witherell and Larry Snowman expire this year, along with that of Town Clerk Vera Parent. All are for three years;

• It was announced nomination papers for a code enforcement officer are available at the town office; and

• It was announced there will be a public meeting of the Finance Committee at 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Town Office, and a budget workshop by selectmen at 6 p.m. Feb. 28 at the Town Office.

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Selectman Larry Snowman speaks about the town’s contract with the Friends of Peru Elementary School at Monday night’s board meeting at the Town Office. (Liz Marquis/Sun Journal)

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