Selectmen reassign transfer station manager

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WATERFORD – Rockie Graham has turned the town’s transfer station into a well-oiled, money-saving machine during her tenure as manager – at least according to the 13 residents who packed the town’s meeting room Friday evening.

And that, they said, is why they didn’t understand the Board of Selectmen’s move to reassign her to a 20-hour-a-week desk job collecting data from her home.

Selectmen said it would be a win-win situation for the town. Graham would work from home as the transfer station liaison, gathering data on the transfer station to determine how to save the town some cash in the future.

Selectmen William “Whizzer” Wheeler and Chairman Norman Rust voted in favor of the motion. The third selectman, David Marston, sat silent with his arms crossed through the entire discussion and did not vote.

Reached by phone after the meeting Marston said Graham did not want the new position. He said it was not clear what will happen with her now.

Wheeler offered no further comment after Friday’s meeting.

The town’s road supervisor, Brad Grover, would take over managing the station’s employees several hours a week.

“There is a significant amount of data to be gathered in support of the transfer station,” Wheeler said during the meeting. The data would be used to find “additional cost-decreasing opportunities. A large part of it is what to do with recyclables.”

Numerous people had been interviewed by an attorney for this post, Wheeler said. An unpaid committee had previously been charged with collecting the data, but didn’t get the job done. Graham was the one best qualified for the task, Wheeler said, though she sent a letter to the board stating she didn’t want the job.

The selectmen were unable to say how the data would be gathered, how many hours the job would require, or how many Graham would get paid for; they estimated 20. They said they had not decided what would would happen to Graham after the data was collected.

When the motion was brought up for discussion, hands burst into the air.

“Is this another way to get rid of Rocky?” one resident asked, referring to an incident last summer when selectmen disagreed on whether to let her go because of her performance.

Residents in the room, including Graham, wondered aloud why selectmen could not just charge her with the task of collecting the data as part of her manager’s job.

“She works for the town, so the town can move her,” Wheeler responded.

After the meeting, Graham said she thought selectmen were ousting her from the manager’s position. She said it was an act of discrimination because of her gender and faith. Graham is Jewish. She has accused Wheeler of making sexually explicit remarks toward her, and has a complaint pending with the Maine Human Rights Commission against Wheeler.

Standing outside the meeting, other residents shook their heads in disbelief.

“Now the person who has instituted and enacted the greatest amount of change is the one being removed,” resident Scott Wels said during the meeting. Wels’ wife, Kelly, was an active member of the Take Back Our Waterford group, which made an effort to oust Wheeler last summer. He resigned and was re-elected to office in a write-in campaign.

“I’ve been in a fair amount of ambushes, being in my military career, and this is an ambush,” Scott Wels added.

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