Gilead voters listen as selectmen answer a question from Paul Handlen (standing) at Saturday’s annual town meeting. Bethel Citizen photo by Alison Aloisio

Incumbent Gilead Selectman Caro Poirier (center) stands with newly-elected selectmen Freeman Corriveau (left) and Jim Bourque after the annual town meeting. Bethel Citizen photo by Alison Aloisio

GILEAD — About three dozen Gilead voters Saturday elected two new selectmen, approved $5,000 for the snowmobile club, and again turned down a proposal to make the town’s road commissioner an appointed position.

In the annual town meeting vote, Freeman Corriveau ousted incumbent selectmen Steve McLain by a vote of 22-9, for a three-year term.  McLain had served since 2007, after having also held the office in the more distant past.

In another selectman vote for a one-year term to fill a seat that had been vacated by Byron Stevens last fall, Jim Bourque defeated McLain 22-10.

For the school committee, Ann Choquette was re-elected running unopposed.

Voters approved all the money articles on the warrant, including $5,000 in taxpayer money to donate to the Wild River Riders to be used for grooming and maintenance of trails.

That vote was 15-13. There was considerable discussion on the issue with some, including former selectman Jeremy Morin, expressing concern about accountability for the spending of the money. He said there had been issues in the past regarding how state snowmobile grant funds had been spent.

But Selectman Caro Poirier defended the request, saying she had talked extensively with Jay Milot of the club, who could not be present at the town meeting.

“I support it,” she said.

Also prompting significant discussion was an article to make the road commissioner position appointed instead of elected, beginning in 2021.  The current commissioner is Fred Corriveau.

Former Selectman Paul Handlen said he did not think the annual meeting was the right “venue” for making the decision, saying there were many issues involved that prompted the proposal. He said a special town meeting that would allow for more information to be gathered would be a better choice. He also said that with only two selectmen in office for Saturday’s meeting, he felt the town was lacking the third perspective of another selectman.

Poirier said there had been concerns expressed about the functioning of the road commissioner position.  She said she had met with Corriveau and discussed some changes for the next snow removal season.  The town also hired a third party to do some work, she said.

Poirier said of the road commissioner, “I think he does an excellent job.”

She said she favored the town meeting vote on whether to make the position appointed in order “to get a feel of what the town was thinking. I think the numbers will tell us something.”

The proposal was easily defeated.

An article to raise $28,000 for the equipment and maintenance of the Fire Department was initially amended on a motion from Freeman Corriveau to $20,000.  He said it was in response to concerns expressed that the municipal budget, if approved as proposed, would increase taxes.

But Morin said he didn’t believe “in punishing people who do a good job.”  The article was eventually approved in the original amount.

In other money articles, voters approved $124,925 to purchase a new plow truck, with annual payments of $28,644.

They also voted to set up an account for maintenance of public ways vehicles, putting $12,000 into it, and approved $25,000 toward improvements for the Town Hall (bringing the latter account total to $75,000).

With the approval of all the money articles the municipal budget is projected to increase from $208,924 to $258,718.
The meeting lasted about 90 minutes and was moderated by Vern Maxfield.

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