JAY — Selectmen voted unanimously Monday night to uphold Town Manager Ruth Marden’s firing of Building Inspector/Deputy Code Enforcement Officer James Butler Jr. of Jay.

Marden terminated Butler on Aug. 14, nearly a year after he was hired and while he was still on probation.

Butler, who is in his early 20s, requested that his appeal to the selectmen be heard in public rather than in executive session. The hearing room resembled a cramped courtroom with more than 30 people attending the three-hour session.

Marden said in her opening statement that the purpose of the appeal was
to determine if she had cause to terminate Butler. She said the firing was due to an accumulation of actions by Butler that displayed “poor judgment” and resulted in a lack of trust and confidence. All of them were related to his actions as a firefighter. They included:

• Using the town’s fire scene tape on a fellow firefighter’s car as a “prank” before he was hired as code enforcement officer.

• Considering using a firetruck to fill his pool, though he didn’t.

• Insubordination and not following the chain of command related to his suspension from the Fire Department this summer.

• Cutting copper wire from a Verso Paper building to potentially sell it to benefit the Fire Department’s training fund. According to testimony, the company provided the building for fire training and copper wire was cut from the walls but never taken off the property.

• Using the Fire Department’s credit card
without permission and on inappropriate items.

Butler, represented by attorney David Sanders, denied any wrongdoing and said he has acted in a professional manner in his part-time job as code enforcement officer. He brought witnesses, including police Chief Larry White, who said an allegation of providing alcohol to minors was unfounded.

Butler remains a captain on the Jay Fire Rescue Department. He recently served a 30-day suspension from July 1 to Aug. after being accused by then Chief Scott Shink of violating the administrative policy on harassment and general conduct policy. Butler appealed it and Marden upheld the suspension. 

Shink’s e-mail to Butler in May was presented as testimony. It cited Butler for insubordination and using the department’s credit card without supervisor permission. It also informed Butler of a citizen’s complaint against him about buying alcohol and furnishing a place for minors to drink it, and Butler spending 10 percent of the department’s training budget on “fine dining.”

According to receipts, Butler charged a total of $379.15 on the town VISA card for a three-night stay at a hotel and meals for himself and another firefighter while attending a training session in southern Maine a year ago. Butler said they paid for their drinks and appetizers, and their girlfriends’ meals out of their own pockets.

In the end, selectmen backed Marden’s decision.

“We talked this over at great length and what we came up with was
not easy,” board Chairman Steve McCourt said after the board’s private
deliberations and prior to voting.

The board said its reasons would be put in writing in the next few

Sanders said after the hearing that once the document is presented, he and Butler will decide the next step.

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Donna M. Perry/Sun Journal

Jay selectmen upheld Town Manager Ruth Marden’s termination of Building
Inspector/Deputy Code Enforcement Officer James Butler Jr. on Monday
night. Marden is at far left against the wall, and Butler is in the first row, second
from left. Seated beside him is his attorney, David Sanders.

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