CANTON — Selectman Brian Keene and Administrator Scotty Kilbreth were inside the Town Office on Saturday morning, still talking about the “great discussions and debates” from Thursday night’s Special Town Meeting.

They mentioned the larger-than-usual crowd that voted on six warrant articles after electing Maine State Treasurer Terry Hayes of Buckfield as moderator.

“It was a big turnout,” Kilbreth said.

Between 65 and 70 residents voted to approve all but one article that sought to enact a new fire department ordinance that would have changed the fire chief position from appointed to elected. Following at least an hour of discussion and debate, that article was defeated by a written-ballot vote of 11-55.

The rest of the articles, such as repealing the 1960s fire department ordinance, were approved by a show of hands.

“That was good that (Hayes) pointed out that we didn’t have to do all these repeals, because the adoption of a new ordinance takes care of that,” Kilbreth said.

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“But procedure-wise, it was easier,” Keene said.

“Yes, we were going by what the Maine Municipal Association had suggested to get these things repealed, just to make sure that the slate was clean and we could start with fresh,” Kilbreth said.

Because most of the articles dealt with the fire department, Keene said, they brought in Dixfield fire Chief Scott Dennett and Peru fire Chief Bill Hussey.

“One of those chiefs is appointed and one is elected, so they gave us their views,” Keene said. “Dixfield’s is appointed.”

“Peru is elected now and they’re going to go to appointed,” Kilbreth said.

“There was a lot of talk if the townspeople should elect (a fire chief) versus do they trust us to appoint,” Keene said. “There was quite a bit of talk on that.”

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“Accountability was their main concern that a lot of citizens had,” Kilbreth said. “With an elected chief, he could pretty much do what he wanted and wasn’t accountable to the board (of selectmen) to control it.”

“All we can do at that point is shut money off,” Keene said. “We can’t reprimand or anything like that.”

“But with appointed … they can hold them accountable,” Kilbreth said.

“I think that was one of the big turning points,” Keene said. “For anyone who was on the fence, that was the turning point after three or four of us stood up and explained the differences there.

Had voters decided that the fire chief should be elected, Keene said, selectmen were ready to create a recall ordinance to place before town meeting voters in June, just to have a method of controlling an elected chief.

The other articles that were approved, all by a show of hands, were:

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* Repealing the 1960s fire department ordinance.

* Approving the new fire department ordinance and making the chief position appointed.

* Repealing the Nov. 4, 2014, vote to elect the fire chief for a three-year term.

* Authorizing the treasurer to record a waiver of foreclosure of a tax lien mortgage with the Oxford County Registry of Deeds.

* Enacting the “Amendments to Housing and Minimum Lot Size Ordinance” to give code enforcement officer Kilbreth the ability to sign “run-of-the-mill” permits, such as for a shed at a house.

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