Wilton police committee members appointed

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WILTON — Selectmen appointed eight members and two alternates to a new Police Committee on Wednesday.

A total of 18 residents want to serve, Town Manager Rhonda Irish told the board. Those appointed include Keith Shoaps, Billy Groder, James Black, Cindy Spencer, Joe Kinsey, Ken Richards, Joe Varulo and Richard Bragg. Alternates selected were Nancy Merrow, Don True and Bruce Parker.

The remaining names will be kept for potential subcommittee work.

Police Chief Heidi Wilcox wants a committee that represents Wilton residents and can provide her with input and feedback, she said Thursday. 

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She looks for committee members to be the voice of the people and help devise questions for a survey on the Police Department’s strengths and how people feel. The committee will also be involved in planning an open house at the Police Department, she said.

Concerns were raised at a recent meeting by some selectmen because Wilcox had asked people to serve, a deviation from the traditional appointments to committees made by selectmen. 

Prior to Wilcox becoming chief, Selectman Tom Saviello started to form a police committee to look at what the department does. Some selectmen also felt those residents should be considered.

After contacting those 12 residents, nine were still interested, Irish said.

Saviello, who was absent at the former meeting, explained his original intention for the committee, one that differs from Wilcox’s.

Following a discussion and close vote over the Police Department budget at town meeting when Page Reynolds was chief, Saviello wanted a committee to look at what the department actually does, he said Wednesday.

After Reynolds left and Wilcox became chief, Saviello said he was reminded by an area town manager that the chief does not report to selectmen but to the town manager.  According to Maine Municipal Association procedures, any issues with the department should be addressed by the town manager.

“I then dropped the idea. My whole purpose was gone,” he said.

Chairman Terry Brann suggested the 18 people come before the board to express why they want to serve, but Selectman Paul Berkey wanted to pick the eight members and not keep tabling it.

“It’ll be May and there’s still no committee the more we prolong it,” he said.

Selectman Russell Black said his issues about the committee at the last meeting were only because of the way they were chosen. It wasn’t consistent with town procedures, he said.

Black suggested each selectman choose eight to serve and the names receiving the most votes would be appointed, along with two alternates.

Selectmen also reappointed Orlando Jordan and appointed Steve Harris to join Norm Gould who is staying on the Finance Committee. One more person is needed to make the slate of 11 members, Irish said.

Lisa Kelley has resigned from the Conservation Commission. The board accepted her resignation.

The board also took Kelley and Ben Bridges off the Ordinance Committee and added Betty Shible.

abryant@sunjournal.com

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