Rick Comstock, standing, was elected to fill a vacancy on the Byron Board of SElectmen at a special town meeting Monday evening. (Bruce Farrin/Rumford Falls Times)

BYRON — Rick Comstock was elected Monday evening to fill a vacant selectman’s seat until the 2019 annual town meeting in March.

About 40 people crowded into a room in the Coos Canyon Schoolhouse for the 15-minute meeting moderated by Scott Cole of Bethel.

Comstock and Ken Poole were nominated from the floor, but Poole declined the nomination. Twenty-four residents cast ballots for Comstock.

Comstock said he’s originally from Byron and wants to see the town move forward in a positive way. He said he works for a health care facility in Augusta and has been successful in applying for grants.

“So I do have the contacts. I’ll try to find grants,” he said.

His comments were met with applause.

Comstock succeeds Anne Simmons-Edmunds, who resigned in May after 10 years on the board.

Comstock joins Chairwoman Linda Joyal and James Ramey, who were elected in March.

Following action on the single warrant article at the meeting, Joyal told residents she received a written update from Ron Smith of RHR Smith & Co. about its ongoing audit of town finances.

Ramey and Joyal learned after their election this year that the town had not had a financial audit for four years. In April, voters approved hiring the firm to review records from 2014 to 2017.

On April 12, a week after the audit began, Allison Freeman submitted her letter of resignation as town clerk, treasurer and tax collector.  She held those positions since 2013.

Freeman wrote that she was resigning because of harassment, a town divide and an inability to fulfill the requirements of the job. Her letter alluded to the missing money and other financial irregularities revealed by the ongoing audit.

“Due to the many recent changes in the Town Office and the issues that have been brought to light, I’ve come to realize that even though I tried my best and followed direction and policies of previous employees/selectmen, I was not fulfilling my job requirement to what some are calling state standards,” Freeman wrote in her letter.

At a special town meeting May 25, Smith told residents that his review of municipal records found them to be inaccurate and its financial records would require much more work than he had originally anticipated.

As of that meeting, the town had paid the firm $12,000. Residents voted then to transfer $5,000 to the legal services account to cover the expected total expense of $17,000.

“The audit is not done yet, but we will be going over the audit update letter at the selectmen meeting” at 6 p.m. Tuesday at 6 p.m., Joyal said Monday evening. Depending on the turnout, that meeting will take place at the Coos Canyon Schoolhouse or next door at the fire station.

Joyal added that after the board has discussed the update on the audit, copies of the update letter will be made available at the Town Office.


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