Thursday, May 12, at 2 p.m. was the last day to submit for letters to the editor in regard to the annual town elections on Saturday, May 21.
HANSON — In a Town Meeting that impressed even Town Moderator Sean Kealy with its smooth going, Hanson voters acted on 37 articles in less than two hours Monday, May 2 — with no discussion at all on the W-H regional school budget or override articles.
“This is great,” Kealy said at one point, urging the crowd to attend more town meetings.
After the meeting, School Committee Chairman Bob Hayes said he was not surprised by the lack of discussion on the school articles.
“It was pretty much cut-and-dried [as to] what it was going to do,” he said. “It’s got to go to the vote, and that’s what everybody wanted, anyway. The people of Hanson have always been good to the school district.”
Kealy had explained that the individual expenditures involved in the Student Success budget, listed in the warrant and read aloud by Selectmen Chairman Bruce Young, would not be a subject for debate.
“We don’t have control over it,” Kealy said. “We either give them the money, or we don’t give them the money.”
He explained School Committee meetings are open to the public and concerns could be expressed directly to them. Young also outlined that Article 6 appropriates the funds, but the ballot question must authorize spending.
After the article passed without discussion, resident Joseph O’Sullivan sought reconsideration in the hope that his motion would fail. Kealy asked for his reason, explaining the Hanson Town Meeting tradition required a “compelling reason,” such as correcting a mistake in wording or calculation.
“We have never done it to close out an issue,” Kealy said. “I do not want to set that precedent, so is there a compelling reason other than you just want no monkey business later on?”
“I want no monkey business later on,” said O’Sullivan, withdrawing his motion.
Kealy reported there were 268 voters present when the Town Meeting began at 7:40 p.m. The 10-minute delay was allowed so that people still in line to sign in by the 7:30 start time could do so. A few more voters arrived after Town Meeting convened.
The town’s free cash balance at the beginning of the special Town Meeting, which was conducted first, was $885,030.
One article that received some unexpected debate within the special Town Meeting was a proposal to spend $3,000 from free cash to pay for a person to come in and scan oversized Planning Board documents onto a digital format. The program was begun last year,
New resident David Pell of 33 Great Cedar Drive asked why the town didn’t buy its own scanner, which could save money in the long run.
“We’re paying $3,000 on an ongoing basis,” Pell said. “I think it would be cheaper if we bought ourselves a printer.”
Capital Improvement Committee Chairman John Norton pointed out that the town owns such a printer. The Historical Society worked with the Community Preservation Committee to obtain one, which is housed at the Hanson Public Library.
“If they walk over to the library, they can save $3,000,” he said. On a counted vote of 172-84, the Town Meeting took Norton’s advice and rejected the Planning Board’s article.
“Once again, welcome to town,” Kealy said to Pell with a laugh after the unanticipated exchange.
Discussion also cropped up in the annual Town Meeting regarding the Maquan School roof repair project under Captial Improvement projects on which there had been a hold placed by selectmen until the board’s pre-Town Meeting session .
Selectman James McGahan, in a meeting of the Board of Selectmen prior to Town Meeting, advocated leaving the figure at $322,000 in case the roof repair came in higher than the current estimates received from Gale Engineering.
“We expect this price to be less, but any difference between the price [goes] back into free cash,” McGahan said at the time, and repeated his reasoning during the Town Meeting session.
Young had argued for reducing it to $150,000. Hayes agreed with McGahan’s approach.
“Another issue to think about is we have to do this work in the summer,” Hayes said during the selectmen’s meeting, cautioning that under-funding the project could delay it because additional funding would have to wait for the October special Town Meeting. “If we can’t do it in the summer, we’re back to the next summer.”
One resident asked how the animal control officers’ hours, which she found inadequate, could be increased. Kealy and selectmen pointed out that, as a regional service, changes would have to be negotiated with partner communities Whitman and Abington. It was one of only four minor questions asked about the $22,621,024 budget article.
“It almost seemed too easy to get through that article compared to previous years,” Kealy said. “It might seem easy, but it’s not. It took a lot of effort by the Finance Committee and the Board of Selectmen with the help of all the town departments, the school board — a lot of work went into this and it’s really a testament to their hard work that we were able to do this so smoothly.”
Town Meeting also gave unanimous support to the establishment of a Memorial to John Ferry at the intersection of Winter and Liberty streets, also voting to support the expenditure of $2,000 for a marker there.
Veterans’ Agent Bob Arsenault said the highly decorated WWII veteran was worthy of the honor, not only for his wartime service to country, but also for a lifetime of service to community.
“John did many things for many people,” Arsenault said. “He was a quiet one. … Many people, for one reason or another, couldn’t afford to have their vehicles fixed. … John would put it on the cuff.”
He also said that Ferry was known to provide reconditioned used cars to some residents who could not afford to buy a car.
“He loved the town of Hanson and I think this is only appropriate for us to do for him,” Arsenault said, indicating a dedication ceremony is being planned for early September.
Voters were also given questionnaires on open space use preferences from the Conservation Commission prior to checking in at Town Meeting and a demonstration of electronic voting devices was also presented in the Hanson Middle School lobby.
“I’m not quite sure whether I’m in favor or opposed to [electronic voting] at this point,” said Kealy about the work of the special committee he appointed to report back to him, selectmen and the Finance Committee at the end of the year or sooner.
Residents in Whitman and Hanson will convene in town meetings on Monday, May 2.
In Whitman, the sessions begin with the annual Town Meeting at 7:30 p.m., for which a quorum of 50 registered voters is required. The special Town Meeting is slated for 7:45 p.m., requiring attendance of 150 registered voters to meet quorum. Voters meet in the Whitman Town Hall auditorium.
Hanson convenes both the annual and special Town Meeting at 7:30 p.m. in the Hanson Middle School auditorium, requiring 100 registered voters to meet quorum.
Town Meeting warrants for both towns are now available online.
Both communities’ town meetings will set municipal budgets, including local assessments to the Whitman-Hanson and South Shore Vo-Tech regional school districts.
The WHRSD budget’s 20.15-percent local assessment increase includes an overall 3.5-percent hike inside the levy limit with the balance contingent on a Proposition 2 ½ override in both communities. The total increase outside the levy is $3 million, apportioned based on student population.
Whitman Selectmen voted 5-0 on Tuesday, April 5 to place a $1,726,588 ballot question for its share of the assessment increase in the $49,714,344 WHRSD operating budget for fiscal 2017. Hanson Selectmen voted 3-2 on the same night to place a $1,241,141 article and ballot question for its share of the assessment, which would increase the town’s assessment to $8,956,207.
Whitman’s annual Town Meeting warrant also includes a total of 54 articles, with 15 articles on the special Town Meeting warrant. Annual warrant articles range from equipment and capital improvement expenditures to by-law amendments pertaining to yard sale permits and dog control regulations — increasing fees for animals picked up by control officers as well as for leash and bite violations and striking a section on outlawed breeds.
Another Whitman article seeks town action on a proposed aggregate agreement for electricity rates from an alternate supplier to National Grid.
The special Town Meeting warrant seeks an $8,000 transfer between accounts to pay for the recent special state senate election, removal of an unsafe building on South Avenue, adjusted bills for Brockton sewer service, equipment lease/purchases, school repair reimbursements and acceptance of a gift to the town of a parcel of land on Auburn Street.
In Hanson, the annual Town Meeting warrant will take up a total of 25 articles, with another 13 on the special Town Meeting warrant. As in Whitman, Hanson’s annual warrant articles include equipment and capital improvement expenditures. There will also be an article proposing the contracting with the state to accept state funding for reconstruction or improvement to town roads as well as seeking funds for repairs to the Maquan School roof. Another seeks voter approval to name the intersection of Winter and Liberty streets in honor of John Ferry, as well as the funds needed to place a memorial marker. Voters will also be asked to place the Smith-Nawazelski Conservation Area under the care and custody of the Conservation Commission. The special Town Meeting warrant seeks to transfer funds to pay for school repair reimbursements, stabilization fund investment and water purchase from Brockton while High Street water tank is being rehabilitated as well as for acceptance of a land donation on Hawks Avenue.
Whitman’s Electronic Voting Study Committee will present an informational report on its findings during Town Meeting and a similar panel in Hanson will provide information on the subject outside Town Meeting.
WHITMAN — A second informational program was conducted by the Electronic Voting Study Committee, including a demonstration of the Turning Technologies devices, in the Selectmen’s Meeting Room of Whitman Town Hall on Tuesday, April 12.
The town’s IT Director Josh MacNeil and Town Clerk Dawn Varley, both members of the committee, handed devices out for those in attendance to try.
“What we’re looking at here is using these devices to count votes silently, which would eliminate the way we’ve been doing Town Meeting for a while now through acclamation votes or through standing counts or the secret ballot process that we already have in place,” said Town Moderator and Study Committee Chairman Michael Seele.
The Study Committee will be making a report to Town Meeting May 2.
Sample articles were shown at the Study Committee meeting on a projection screen, much as they would be at Town Meeting, with “yes” or “no” prompts from which voters would choose by a numbered keypad on the device resembling a remote control that is smaller than a smartphone.
Thirty seconds were allowed for voting on each of six questions. When polling opens, a counter appears in a square in the lower left-hand corner of the screen and a vote counter shows only the number of people casting votes until the 30 seconds elapse. Results are reported in the form of a bar graph on screen at the close of each polling window.
Committee member Robert Trotta said 30 seconds, as it ticks down, seemed like a long time, but MacNeil said the time window is customizable.
“You have a pretty good amount of control with the software,” he said.
When one sample question received a 50-50 split decision, MacNeil noted how important exact counts are at Town Meeting.
“On two-thirds votes, it calculates it for you right away,” Varley agreed.
Seele said the last informational session had raised questions concerning voting security, power failures and handicapped access that the committee could not yet answer, so Turning Technologies representative Greg Alexander was brought in via conference call.
Alexander said the devices operate on a radio signal similar to wireless landline telephones.
“We take a very small portion of that frequency and there are 82 different channels that we use within the frequency,” Alexander said. “I’ve been with Turning Technologies for over 10 years now [and] there has never been any interference issue.”
Turning Technologies works on Department of Defense and hospital contracts all over the world.
“There’s nothing in the technology that defeats it, but there’s proprietary information in the response card, or clicker, as many people call it, and the receiver,” he said.
Only information from town-owned devices would be accepted by the computer, so someone could not stand outside the hall could hack in via their own personal devices.
“This is not going to affect how Town Meeting is run, it’s only going to determine how the votes are going to be taken,” said former Town Administrator Michael Hayes, who serves on the Study Committee.
Data collected before any power failure would be saved through a back-up storage following each question for which the device is used, much like the autosave option on computer software such as Mircosoft Word.
“When the power comes back on, it would just be a question of getting that computer up and running and the data would be stored on that particular machine,” Alexander said. MacNeil said computer backups and building generators will keep the computers up and running.
Alexander said the moderator could always decide if a revote were necessary.
Turning Technologies does make a device for the visually impaired, with Braille letters on the buttons and a vibration instead of an LED screen, to tell when information has been accepted by the software. Many federal agencies using them ask that 10 percent of total devices ordered be designed for the visually impaired, but Alexander said that may be too high a percentage for Whitman’s needs.
Voters may change their minds on a vote, but the last answer entered is the one registered with the software and counted when the voting window closes.
No personal information is entered onto the device, Varley said.
“Somehow we’ll have to record the device number,” just to ensure they are returned, she said. But stressed no information about a voter or voting activity is stored in it.
“We don’t want to know how each person votes, that’s the whole purpose of it,” Varley said. “Once you leave the auditorium, the device has to stay in the auditorium. You can’t go in the ladies’ room and vote from in there.”
But the potential for people voting for each other is still a concern, Seele and Varley said.
“There’s no town that’s been using these for more that three or four years,” Seele said.
A by-law change would have to be made to permit permanent use, but a rental trial can be conducted to see how the devices work for Whitman, according to Hayes and Varley.
One person attending the meeting expressed support for the idea, but was concerned about cost. Varley said they are $47 each plus $400 for the receiver, or $7,449 for 150 devices, according to a quote from Turning Technologies. It costs $1,095 to rent 100 devices plus $4 for each added device.
The cost for customized devices, for example, would cost much more.
“We can always borrow [extra] devices, we can also rent them,” she said for Town Meetings that draw larger crowds of voters.
Software is a free plug-in from Turning Technologies.
Resident Joshua Kimball suggested a poll of users after a first trail to determine how voters like it.
Taylor Lee Meyer was a popular member of the softball team at King Philip Regional High School in Wrentham.
The 17-year-old had some tragic plans for homecoming weekend in October 2008, however, posting on her Facebook page that her status on the last night of her life was “getting shattered” at private parties, according to her mother Kathi Meyer Sullivan.
Taylor had drowned that night in only two feet of swampy water after stumbling off into the woods following an argument with a friend during a night of underage drinking. She left devastated parents and two brothers — one older and one younger.
“My daughter passed away because of poor choices,” Sullivan said. “But every single day there’s someone out there who learns something new because of Taylor.”
Sullivan brought her story, “Taylor’s Message,” to a Whitman-Hanson WILL-sponsored town hall program on substance abuse Monday, April 11 in the Dr. John F. McEwan Performing Arts Center at WHRHS. The event was co-sponsored by the Brockton Area Opioid Abuse Prevention and was followed by a panel discussion featuring Stacey Lynch of CASTLE, High Point Treatment Center; Whitman Police Chief Scott Benton and Hanson Police Officer Bill Frazier; Mary Cunningham, a young adult in recovery and Ryan Morgan, principal of Independence Academy, a recovery high school. Morgan is a former assistant principal at Hanson’s Indian Head School.
“What we try to do at school is talk about these issues,” said W-H Principal Jeffrey Szymaniak after Sullivan’s talk.
Sullivan and the panelists agreed that parents need to speak to their kids about wise choices, and to check up on their social media activity.
“This is a huge problem,” said Hanson Police Chief Michael Miksch. “All I can say is spy on your kids. … If you’re not going to watch them, somebody else will.”
“Speak to your kids,” Sullivan said. “Tell them you want a phone call, to let you know they’re OK. Make them accountable.”
Frazier outlined how he drives home the message, in an age-appropriate manner, that social media posts are forever.
“There’s lots of things I wish I did differently,” said Sullivan in a talk that ranged from wistful humor to tearful recollection and remorse. “I raised my [then] 10-year-old a lot different than I raised Taylor.”
That close supervision had not prevented her younger son from experimenting with marijuana, but having learned from her daughter’s tragedy, Sullivan arranged for the boy to have a three-hour heart-to-heart talk with police after he turned in his paraphernalia.
As she spoke to an audience of about 150 parents, adolescents and members of the community, an enlargement of Taylor’s graduation portrait was behind her on the stage — a smiling, blond-haired girl in a beige sweater that Sullivan said “is not my kid.”
She preferred wearing baggy sweatshirts and sweatpants.
“Taylor was a cute little mess,” she said.
Sullivan pointed to a slide show of photos from Taylor’s homecoming weekend, pictures she has since received from Taylor’s friends.
She told of how one of Taylor’s friends had arranged to purchase alcohol for homecoming parties and that the 17-year-old had attended two house parties where alcohol was served, before heading out to the party in the woods where the fight with a girlfriend happened.
Sullivan spoke of her regret in not having called Taylor to check up on her, and that of others who had encountered the teen during the homecoming events. One of those people was a mother of one of Taylor’s softball teammates who noticed the girl had been drinking but did not call her mother after Taylor assured the woman she wasn’t driving.
“Please co-parent together,” Sullivan said. “Make that phone call. … If ever something is off just make that phone call.”
It took 600 volunteers and public safety officers two days of searching to find Taylor Meyer’s body.
“She had crossed a river up to her chest in the freezing cold, she walked in mud up to her knees, she had no shoes on,” Sullivan said of her daughter’s effort to find her way out of a wooded swamp before drowning in two feet of water. “She was all alone. … As her mom, I can only pray that she fell asleep.”
Sullivan said when she speaks to high school students she stresses that Taylor’s death was 100-percent preventable had she had made better choices.
She said after her daughter’s death, “I had to decide to be happy. It’s not easy to do and I tell everybody something in your life is going to hit you like that and you’re going to have to make that choice to be happy.”
During the panel presentation Cunningham, sober for two and a half years, outlined her descent into addiction beginning with alcohol abuse and experimentation with percocet, which led to heroin within a month. Morgan described the recovery high school program offered at Independence Academy and Lynch outlined the recovery treatment process.
Benton and Frazier talked about the role of police in substance abuse prevention and community outreach as well as law enforcement.
“We recognize, as a community, that this is a public safety and public health issue,” Benton said. “As a police department, we’re obviously on the enforcement end of it, but we’re also a resource for education to help and let’s address it together.”
Questions from the audience ranged from the details of the Social Host Law (adults are criminal and civilly liable for underage drinking parties on their property) to parental controls on social media, communication with kids on trusting what might be in candy offered by acquaintances to the implications of a ballot question to legalize pot.
“There’s going to be huge marijuana money going after it, just like big tobacco,” Morgan cautioned about the effort to legalize marijuana. “The thing you have to drive home with your adolescents is it affects their brain differently than it would a grown person’s brain.”
The program was broadcast and recorded by Whitman-Hanson Community Access TV.
“This is going to take everybody together to work at this,” Benton said.
WHITMAN — Three area men are facing drug charges after search warrants were executed on Monday, April 4 by detectives assigned to the WEB Task Force at Whitman apartments identified as being the places of suspected heroin and fentanyl sales over the past several months.
“Monday’s search warrants and this operation show that the WEB Task Force and Whitman Police Department are committed to aggressively pursuing similar ‘quality of life cases,’ in which neighborhoods are overcome with daily fentanyl and heroin transactions, as well as the drug’s use,” stated a press release issued by detective Sgt. Scott Allen of the East Bridgewater Police Department. “The WEB Task Force and Whitman Police will continue to investigate anyone suspected of selling these deadly drugs. Nearly all opioid investigations currently involve fentanyl mixed with heroin or contain solely fentanyl which is packaged and sold on the streets.”
Monday’s search warrants were the culmination of an investigation that has been ongoing since just around the start of the year, according to Allen.
“WEB Task Force investigators had received information over the past several months identifying an apartment located at 309 Old South Ave., Whitman that was suspected of being utilized as a main meeting site where suspected fentanyl/heroin sales were taking place to persons from Whitman and other nearby communities,” a press release issued by Allen on Tuesday stated. “Information had been received from concerned citizens, numerous sources of information, as well as supported by approximately 10 prior Whitman Police calls for service at 309 Old South Ave.”
Over the past several months, at least five non-fatal suspected fentanyl/heroin overdoses have occurred either directly at 309 Old South Ave., or in close proximity to the residence which involved individuals identified as being associated to the investigation, according to police. During the investigation, police said a father of one of the targets of the probe reported to Whitman Police that he had been observing the same male subject he believed was selling suspected fentanyl/heroin to his son and his friends at 309 Old South Ave.
“During the investigation, a WEB undercover officer was able to initiate undercover fentanyl purchases from the person suspected as supplying fentanyl to persons at 309 Old South Ave.,” the release stated.
After making three undercover purchases of fentanyl, on March 24, WEB Task Force investigators and Whitman Police Officers arrested the target of this undercover operation, Saquaan R, Louis, 24, a listed resident of 1968 North Main St., Fall River. Louis had been identified as a former resident of the city of Brockton with prior drug offenses. WEB Task Force detectives had identified Louis as being a distributor of fentanyl, and suspected him of distributing fentanyl to persons at 309 Old South Ave, Whitman on multiple occasions.
Louis was arrested at the Route 18 Wendy’s parking lot in Whitman on March 24, in a vehicle while in possession of three bags of fentanyl that WEB investigators believed he was selling that day. Louis was arrested and arraigned at Brockton District Court for; possession with the intent to distribute fentanyl (a Class B Controlled Substance) and three counts of distribution of fentanyl (for prior sales to an undercover WEB detective in Whitman over the prior weeks). He was held on $25,000.00 bail at Brockton District Court and was last known to still being held at the Plymouth County House of Correction.
“Even after Mr. Louis’ arrest, WEB investigators continued to observe suspected drug transactions occurring at and/or from within Apt. 1 at 309 Old South Ave, Whitman,” the release stated. “Several suspects of the Whitman end of the investigation had been identified and search warrants were sought by lead WEB and Whitman Detective Peter Aitken for 309 Old South Ave., Apt. 1 and a second location, 23 ½ South Ave, 2nd floor, also inWhitman.
On Monday evening, WEB investigators executed both search warrants.
At 309 Old South Ave., investigators located and arrested one of the main Whitman suspects, Robert Barton, 23, a resident of 309 Old South Ave., Apt. 1, according to the report.
“Mr. Barton was in possession of a small quantity of heroin when detectives executed the search warrant,” the report stated.
Detectives searched Barton’s residence and located digital scales and plastic baggies consistent with being utilized to distribute quantities of fentanyl. Also seized were multiple cellular phones police believed to be used to facilitate and arrange drug sales. A significant amount of hypodermic needles and syringes were located throughout the apartment, consistent with detective’s suspicions that the apartment was being utilized by many fentanyl/heroin users to inject and use the drugs just purchased at or near that location.
Barton was arrested and transported to Whitman Police station where he was charged with; possession with the intent to distribute a Class B substance (fentanyl) and possession of a Class B controlled substance (fentanyl).
WEB detectives executed a second search warrant Monday night at the , 23 ½ South Ave, 2nd floor, Whitman. This apartment had been identified as the residence of the other target of the probe, Ryan Hooper, 23.
“Mr. Hooper had been subject to surveillance during the investigation and was suspected of being involved in fentanyl/heroin sales at 309 Old South Ave., as well,” police stated. “On March 29, and prior to search warrants having been issued, Whitman Police responded to 23 ½ South Ave. related to a call involving Mr. Hooper. During this police response, Mr. Hooper was in possession of approximately 90 or more Clonazepam pills, also known as Klonopins or ‘K–pins,’ which is a benzodiazepine, a drug frequently and dangerously abused in conjunction with heroin or fentanyl use.”
Hooper is being summoned to Brockton District Court for possession with intent to distribute a Class C controlled Substance (Clonazepam) by Whitman Police related to the March 29 offense.
“Mr. Hooper had been the main probe of the 309 Old South Ave. investigation prior to March 29 and had previously resided with Mr. Barton and/or stayed at his Old South Avenue residence during this investigation,” police stated.
Hooper was also arrested by Whitman Police on Dec. 13, 2015 for a commercial Burglary at The Smoke Shop, 27 South Ave, Whitman — a business that sells electronic cigarettes and smoking paraphernalia. Hooper was charged and arraigned for breaking and entering of a building at nighttime for a felony, assault and battery on a police officer and an assortment of drug charges as he was arrested and found in possession of numerous drugs including suspected heroin/fentanyl.
Barton was arraigned on Tuesday, April 5 at Brockton District Court. He was held on $500 cash bail, which he had not posted as of Wednesday morning. Barton is due back in court May 5. No arraignment date has been set for Hooper’s newest charge.
Louis’ offenses are pending in the pre-trial session at court.
HALIFAX — Members of the Plymouth County Technical Rescue team rescued a 51-year-old man from a trench after the land gave way around him Tuesday morning.
Paul Brown of Plymouth was approximately eight feet down in a yard on South Street in Halifax on Tuesday morning when the earth around him collapsed.
“He was conscious the whole time, “said Halifax Fire Chief Jason Viveiros.
It took rescuers two hours to free Brown.
“We were in constant communication with him and he was receiving advanced life support treatment as the team was working to free him,” Viveiros said.
Chief Viveiros along with Lt. Rob O’Brien of Hanson fire spoke to media following the intensive rescue effort. A long backboard with several pulley systems was secured to heavy ropes as the group slowly and methodically pulled Brown up.
“They used small army-type shovels to move the dirt as any heavy machinery could jeopardize the victim; dumping more dirt on him,” said O’Brien who is part of the Plymouth County Technical Rescue team.
After securing the trench for members to enter, buckets were moved by rotating firefighters who were taking turns in the hole lifting dirt out. Fire chiefs as well as their fire department members who are specially trained in technical rescues represented many towns on the South Shore.
A portable heating unit was placed with flexible tubes in the ground while the man was trapped as he began to show signs of hypothermia.
It appeared Brown suffered from possible lower extremity injuries, said Viveiros.
Brown who works for Evergreen Landscaping was in the trench working when the area collapsed around him. Another person who was not injured had operated an excavator.
They continuously talked with him letting him know that there were specialists to help get him out, the ‘best of the best’ who constantly train for these rescues, said Viveiros in an effort to keep the victim calm.
The homeowner said Brown was speaking to her and expressed that he didn’t think he could get out when she called 911 after 9 a.m. Tuesday. She said she could see him moving the dirt with his hands but he could not free himself.
The repair was involving a septic system unit and was on private property, said Viveiros.
“I just can’t say enough for the support and what they did here – the technical team and the individuals who were here today,” Viveiros said.
The incident’s positive outcome and rescue was very fortunate, he said.
Brown was flown via Med Flight to a Boston Hospital.
OSHA and several state inspectors were on scene throughout the day as part of the investigation, according to Viveiros.
HANSON — Now there are two.
After interviews with the four final candidates — Greg Enos of Brockton, Michael McCue of Mansfield, Chawner Hurd of Lakeville and Sarah Smith of East Bridgewater — recommended by the Town Administrator Search Committee, Selectmen narrowed the field to McCue and Smith Tuesday, March 22.
It came down to experience, enthusiasm, longevity considerations, personality and opposition to using overrides to balance school operating budgets. Enos, Whitman’s assistant town administrator, also received high marks for his experience, particularly in grant writing and familiarity with the regional schools.
“I thought they were all good,” said Selectmen Chairman Bruce Young. “They all had various strengths.”
All four candidates had expressed an aversion to micro-managing and concern for the ethical use of social media, key areas of concern for selectmen.
“I think they’re all great candidates,” said Selectman James McGahan. “I thank the board for getting us some really highly qualified people. I think we’ve got some great talent.”
“I think we can take all four of them and flip a coin, they’re so close,” Selectman Don Howard said. “I’m having a difficult time because I’ve been through this twice before.”
While there was wide agreement on McCue, with Howard voting for Hurd (a businessman and former selectman), another 4-1 consensus vote selected Smith, with Selectman Bill Scott favoring Enos, following some discussion.
“I’m an experience guy,” Scott said. “We have two candidates [McCue and Enos] that bring experience to the job. … I don’t think we can afford the time to train another town administrator, with all due respect to the candidates — they were all impressive — but my feeling is it should go to someone … that can hit the ground running.”
McGahan agreed Smith is not familiar with regional schools, but noted she is friends with W-H Director of Business Services Christine Suckow, and can gain information from that relationship.
“But she made it a point in her letter that she understands there has to be a balance between the two (town and school budgets),” he said. Smith is currently business manager for West Bridgewater schools and has worked in private business as a financial officer.
Selectman Kenny Mitchell said he liked all four, but that Hurd’s résumé bordered on inscrutable.
“I’m not quite sure what he does now,” Mitchell said. He and McGahan agreed Smith’s enthusiasm for the position outweighed her lack of experience.
“I think she’s hungry for the job,” McGahan said.
The board will meet Tuesday, March 29 to make its final selection following reference checks.
McCue was favored for his experience and Hanson ties. He is currently town administrator in Rochester, a post he has also held in Avon, and has served as an administrative assistant to selectmen in Mendon, as an Economic Development grants officer in Walpole and was a selectman in Mansfield for six years. McCue had been a finalist for Hanson’s former executive secretary position about 12 years ago when Michael Finglas was hired, and his parents have lived in town for about 20 years.
Each candidate was allotted 45 minutes, with all but McCue taking less time to exhaust selectmen’s prepared questions and follow-ups. All four interviews were recorded for later broadcast by Whitman-Hanson Community Access Television.
Questions ranged from familiarity with the Town Administrator Act and the role of the office to management style, relations with selectmen and the regional school district and use of social media.
“I see myself as generally providing oversight to all departments, making sure all departments work cohesively, without being invasive,” McCue said of the role of town administrator. “My chief role would be shepherd of the budget.”
“Facilitating your visions and goals for the town” is job one, Smith said. “The residents elected you. I just want to make sure that we fulfill what you want to do legally, ethically and make the town better that way.”
She added that she advocates an open-door policy, listens to all sides and doesn’t take things personally.
“The town administrator doesn’t run the town, you people do,” she said.
Both McCue and Smith were conversant that Hanson’s current budget is $22 million. Neither favors overrides as a method of balancing the school district’s operational budget.
“I am aware your growth has been down this year and that you do have some debt exclusions out there,” Smith said. “Overrides for balancing budgets, I’m just not a fan of.”
While appropriate in some circumstances, she said a “major discussion” must happen before it comes to that.
“I believe that is the last resort,” McCue said. The law allows us to do it. I think that, in extreme circumstances, it can be warranted. I can safely say that I have not been party to an operational override. … It is the option of last resort, I believe.”
McCue also said his role would also be to investigate and foster economic expansion for the town, while serving as spokesman and go-between for the Board of Selectmen. The commuter rail station area is one he sees as a prime area for that type of expansion.
“Having served on a board of selectmen for six years, I do think I bring to the position an understanding of what you all deal with and need to work through on a daily basis,” McCue said.
Like all four candidates, McCue said communication was key to avoiding or resolving conflicts between subordinates, peers and board members.
“I don’t stand over people’s shoulders,” McCue said. “I expect people, who get paid very well and who are professionals, to do their job. That being said, there are occasions where I need to get involved and I try to keep those lines of communication open on a regular basis so I can nip problems in the bud.”
“I’m definitely a team player,” she said. “I’m not a micro-manager. I understand that sometimes you need to be firm, but you can always do that in a respectful way.”
One question outlined a hypothetical situation in which selectmen approach a town administrator for help setting up a social media page in support of a multi-million dollar project, requiring a debt exclusion, on which only favorable posts are permitted. All candidates said they could not ethically do that, nor would they use social media to advocate for extension of their contract.
“I cannot ethically do that,” Smith said of the project scenario. “I feel that social media, for a town, is to get information out to the people. … I’m not one to air my political views or anything like that.”
“There are constraints in terms of what one can do in terms of political function,” McCue said. “I would do my best to get the information out there, to deal with any questions that people might have … I’d hold public meetings — and they wouldn’t necessarily be here in Town Hall.
“One needs to be a little careful with social media because you can lose that person-to-person contact that I think a lot of people still want,” McCue said.