One might title it Two Reorganizations and a Baby.
After opening the meeting with what has become the usual somber moment of silence in honor of the people of Ukraine – as well as in memory of the children and teachers slain in a mass school shooting in Uvalde, Texas – Whitman Select Board Chairman Carl Kowalski said he wanted to open the meeting on a lighter note.
“You’ll notice there’s an empty chair here tonight, Justin Evans is not able to be here because he and his wife Kathy had a baby daughter this afternoon,” Kowalski said. “Eight pounds, five ounces, 21 inches – a good-sized daughter – and so he’s going to be with them for a little while and he won’t be able to be here this evening, which means we won’t be reorganizing the Select Board this evening.”
Kowalski said it has been the board’s practice to wait for the first meeting at which we have a full board after a town election to reorganize.
“I talked to Justin on the phone just a little while ago and he does plan to be here on June 7,” he said, indicating the reorganization should happen then.
The School Committee and Select Boards welcomed new members and reorganized their slates of officers last week, following the Saturday, May 21 town elections in Whitman and Hanson.
The Hanson Select Board and the W-H Regional School Committee did reorganize last week.
Superintendent of Schools Jeff Szymaniak, presided until the School Committee re-elected Hanson’s Christopher Howard as chair in an unusual Monday meeting on May 23.
“Congratulations to incumbent members Beth Stafford, Dawn Byers and Chris Howard for their re-election and [to] our newest member Glen DiGravio for his successful election,” Szymaniak said.
Howard was re-elected chairman with Scriven also returning in the post of vice chair. David Forth was tabbed as secretary/clerk. Steve Bois was elected treasurer and Dawn Byers won the post of assistant treasurer.
Bois had placed his own name in nomination for chair post and Christopher Scriven nominated Howard for another term as the head of the meetings. Member Fred Small nominated Beth Stafford.
Szymaniak conducted a roll call of members, with a majority to decide the selection. Abstentions were deemed to be no-votes.
Bois failed to receive a majority with a vote of 4-5-1. Howard was then elected with a unanimous 10-0 vote, rendering a vote on Stafford’s nomination unnecessary.
“Thank you all, I look forward to working with you,” Howard said.
Bois also nominated himself for consideration as vice chair, with Scriven and Stafford also nominated. Bois failed to win a majority with a tally of 3-6-1. Scriven was elected by a 7-3 for the win.
The vote for secretary/clerk was between Forth and Small. Forth was selected by a 6-4 vote.
Bois’ name was again placed in nomination, this time by Dawn Byers for treasurer. With no competition, Bois was elected unanimously. Forth then nominated Byers for assistant treasurer, as was Stafford, again nominated by Fred Small. Byers was elected 7-3 with one abstention.
The committee then entered into executive session to discuss strategy in regard to collective bargaining with non-union personnel (a new special education director).
The next night, Hanson Select Board reorganized.
In Hanson, this process raised a bit of unexpected drama.
“Tonight we are welcoming and congratulating two new members to our select board – Ann Rein and Ed Heal,” said Town Administrator Lisa Green, who presided until a chair was selected.
Laura FitzGerald-Kemmett was elected chair with Joe Weeks as vice chair and Rein as clerk.
FitzGerald-Kemmett nominated herself for chair, seconded by Rein. Member Jim Hickey also nominated himself, seconded by Joe Weeks.
“That’s alright, Joe, you don’t have to,” Hickey said. “You don’t have to, that’s OK. I withdraw my nomination.”
FitzGerald-Kemmett was elected by a 4-0-1 vote with Hickey abstaining. When FitzGerald-Kemmett opened the floor to nominations for vice chair an awkward silence was followed by Weeks nominating himself almost in unison with Rein’s intention of the same thing.
“Just so people don’t have to stare at a [silent screen],” Weeks said with a laugh. The vote was unaninmous. Rein nominated herself as clerk when no one else spoke up.