Video by Norway Paris Community Television

Selectman Sam Elliot tried twice to make his feelings about Bernard’s resignation apparent. First, he motioned that the board amend its acceptance of Bernard’s resignation to include the words “with regret.” His motion failed by a 3-2 vote.

After the last item on the agenda, Elliot asked to speak, saying the town had lost “one of the best town managers” it ever had.

“She’s very knowledgeable — she knows lots about roads, she knows about finance and she’s great with personnel,” Elliot said. “She’s a genius at finding really good people to fill positions and she’s leaving unhappily, I’m afraid. It’s partly because of the way she’s been treated, and (she’s) been treated unethically and illegally.”

Bernard, who is in her 30s and lives in Rumford, took over as town manager in December 2012. She handed in her resignation this month and has accepted the job of administrator for the town of Newry.

Elliot cautioned that certain comments regarding Bernard’s performance made by Selectman Janet Jamison on public forums on Facebook and also in email communications might open the town up for legal action.

As he was speaking, residents began shouting at him, asking him when his term was up and saying that his speaking about these matters at that time was inappropriate. One said a member of Elliot’s family participated in negative online discussions.

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“You’re not telling the truth,” one person said as Elliot attempted to read direct quotes he had printed from a Facebook page run by residents who have voiced concern about the town’s tax rate.

Board of Selectmen Chairman Robert Wessels used his gavel to try to bring order to the meeting more than once. Some people left, but several continued to interrupt Elliot as he spoke, arguing with his assertions.

“I was disappointed that people who seem to have a lot to say — critical things — on the Internet, weren’t willing to listen to what I had to say and tried to prevent me from saying it,” Elliot said in a phone interview on Tuesday.

Elliot said he’s concerned about finding a qualified new town manager. He said he fears that anyone who might be interested in the position would be scared away by the negativity they might find online if such activity continues.

“This is serious,” he told residents. “We need to hire a good person to run this town, and anybody coming in here and looking at this kind of thing that’s being said is not taking the job, people.”

The board decided to hire an interim town manager while conducting what they expect will be a monthslong search for a replacement.

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Online video

Watch the clip of Selectman Sam Elliot’s complaints at SunJournal.com/news/1837783.


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