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Chesterville town clerk resigns

CHESTERVILLE - The town clerk resigned Thursday morning, resulting in a number of town office functions becoming temporarily unavailable to residents.

Town Clerk Heather Wheeler verbally resigned her position Thursday morning. The Board of Selectmen was informed Thursday evening by another town employee, leaving the board scrambling to make alternate arrangements Friday morning.

"It came as a surprise," Board Chair Guy Iverson said Friday. "It seems like everyone else in town knew about [the resignation] except the selectmen."

As the town clerk, Wheeler was responsible for vehicle, ATV and boat registrations, as well as issuing dog licenses. Further irking Iverson was that the Maine Department of Motor Vehicles had apparently removed all material pertaining to vehicle registrations from the town office Thursday. Iverson says that the board was not informed about that removal and that he had contacted the DMV.

Iverson said that he had been in contact with the town's attorney and Maine Municipal Association about how the town should move forward.

Meanwhile, Selectman Tiffany Estabrook has been working to secure other arrangements to allow Chesterville residents to register vehicles, license their dogs and access other elements of the town office. She said that New Sharon, the first town officially contacted by Chesterville, had agreed to begin processing Chesterville resident registrations by early afternoon Friday.

Additionally, Estabrook said, a New Sharon employee would be at the Chesterville town office on Tuesday, from 9 a.m. until 4:30 p.m., and Thursday, from 9 a.m. until 7 p.m., beginning Tuesday, Jan. 24.

Estabrook said that she intended to contact other nearby towns as well, such as Jay, to try and secure additional options for residents on Monday, Wednesdays and Fridays. She noted that while she would have preferred a little more warning to allow for selectmen to make such arrangements in advance, the board had been working "diligently" Friday morning to limit the resignation's disruption.

In addition to town clerk, Wheeler served as the town's tax collector, registrar of voters, E-911 addressing officer, welfare director and deputy treasurer. Those various duties would need to be parceled out, Iverson said, to either the temporary town office assistance or other employees.

Among Wheeler's many duties was to accept nomination paperwork for would-be elected officials. This created an additional issue, Iverson said, as the deadline for nomination papers for the March election to be returned to the town office is Jan. 27 at 4:30 p.m. Iverson said that the board had been presented with nomination papers, which include a list of signatures, Thursday evening but had been unable to accept them.

The Board of Selectmen currently consists of Iverson, Estabrook, Selectman Matt Welch and Selectman Tyler Jenness. Nomination papers are currently available for three seats that will be filled at the March election:

  • The remaining year on Caldwell's three-year seat.
  • The three-year seat currently filled by Iverson.
  • The perpetually one-year seat previously filled by Lambert, now filled by Jenness, and open again in March.

Iverson said that once the board had arranged for nomination papers to be accepted once more, residents that had taken out papers would be contacted.

Wheeler's resignation is the latest in a series of town officials leaving office over the past few months. Selectman Paul Caldwell resigned in December, two months after Selectmen Anne Lambert and David Archer, both resigned on Sept. 15. Road Foreman Ron Powers resigned in October.

When asked about the recent turmoil, Iverson suggested that friction between some town employees and some selectmen was responsible. Equalizing benefit packages across different departments, issues such as the copier lease or the IRS penalties, had strained that relationship, Iverson said. He noted that one positive development to come out of the past few months had been more attendance at town board meetings, which now drew as many as 15 residents.

Through the issues, Iverson said, the town had continued to operate, completing a year's-worth of road projects that were expected to come in under budget.

"We're saying 'please don't panic,'" Iverson said, addressing residents in town. "We'll get through this."

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18 Responses »

  1. "It came as a surprise," Board Chair Guy Iverson said Friday. "It seems like everyone else in town knew about [the resignation] except the selectmen."

    Hmmm, I wonder where the problem lies. Example of poor leadership.

    Tiffany Estabrook, thank you for acting like the chair while the other one doesn't see what's going on. Also for stepping up while we're in this holding pattern.

  2. This is too bad. Heather stuck in there longer than most would have under the circumstances the last 3 years. Very unfortunate that we have one selectman that seems to make it unbearable to be a selectman or work for the town in any capacity. Best of luck Heather, you did a great job while you were here.

  3. I was so shocked to hear of Heather resigning. I am very disappointed with The town of Chesterville.These last couple of years have been nothing but problems stemming to select persons not getting along . I think the people of Chesterville need to all go to the meetings and voice their concerns . Something has to be done, or we are going to find ourselves incorporated with Farmington.

  4. I don't understand why anyone thinks Farmington needs to incorporate more problems. We have enough. Try Jay!

  5. I'm not sure going to 5 selectpersons in such a small town helped the situation. Too many personalities add to the conflicts. In reality, Chesterville is such a small town, there is a relatively small amount of business to attend to, only three selectpersons are needed.

    Also, No one person knows more than the aggregate...hopefully the Chesterville selectpersons understand that, respect each other, town employees, and the townspeople. With some mutual respect they can work together to move forward.

    Having sat on the board with Archer and Worth a few years back, I can say they had respect for each other even during disagreements and they truly tried to do what they felt was best for the town. I hope the town currently has or can find a few more like them who want to serve the town for the right reasons.

    Its too bad the town has lost a few good employees over the last few years due to friction of one sort or another. All of them, including road foreman McHugh were trying to do their best by the town while put under tremendous unnecessary scrutiny. A little self reflection by all and respect for others will go a long way in these situations.

  6. Seems like maybe the wrong people have been resigning... But I'm on the outside looking in..

  7. Everyone in Chesterville who is awake knows where the problem lies. After the March elections things will improve and hopefully get back to normal.../... well with maybe one exception, that being the Campus thing.

  8. Nope Tom we have more problems than Farmington [ bulging salaries , benefits and man power ]

  9. @ Outside Looking In Very good point. Most people are on the outside looking in. I was one of them. My views changed after being on the select board for two years, just as others views have changed that are new on the board. Talk to your elected officials. Give them a chance to explain. Don't just base opinions on rumors. Thank you .Previous board member, Scott Gray

  10. Selectmen including myself heard rumors...i told those people...i dont listen to rumors. As far as i knew and was aware the clerk was still an active employee.

  11. If you live in Chesterville ...Maybe you should go to the town selectman's meeting on Thursday night at 6 pm.
    Put a little input in there.

  12. I just want to take a minute to thank our Selectpersons for a job well done! Like many folks, I was saddened to hear that Heather resigned yesterday. I like her and will miss seeing her smiling face at the town office! Her abrupt departure left our town in a bit of a pickle. Our elected officials have worked tirelessly all day to put immediate solutions in place so the citizenship can continue to go about our business without skipping a beat. This is no mean feat in and of itself! But when you consider that they managed to pull it all together so quickly while also fielding questions and complaints from all of us in person, on the phone and online... well, bravo to them! I know I alone managed to tie up 2 1/2 hours of their collective time today. Every one of them dealt with me with welcoming patience, they answered my incessant questions to the best of their ability while maintaining required confidences and even wrapped up our conversations by graciously thanking me for my concerns. This is dedication at its finest and it fills me with confidence that our little town is on the right track with quality leadership at the helm!

  13. Something tells me there is more to this then what we are being told !! Yes it is sad she left the town office but it's also time for change in this town something needs to change !!

  14. Let's starting using an agenda. Stop the nonsense of the crowd and start getting things done. We have 5 selectman already, letting the audience add their 2 cents is not benifiting the town. Scott Gray is not a selectman and does NOT speak for the whole town. Let's start letting the people we voted in run the show and not the attendees. Hopefully March will bring a change to Chesterville.

  15. It seems to me that people should be heard, and that we shouldn't just be relying on the select board to make changes in our community. If there were no people like Scott Gray attending meetings and sticking up for what is right in our town, then we would revert back to our old ways. There appears to be a correlation of what is wrong in our town and what is going on with our country as a whole. People are finally voicing their opinions and standing up for what they believe in and and, in return, are being bashed and battered by the very people they are trying to help and represent. Why take steps backward when we can have our voices heard and take steps forward to better our town? We should be happy that we have people on the select board who are willing to hear the people of Chesterville and allow them to be vocal about what they want.

    So, for those of you have have issues with the very people who are working hard to make sure people are held accountable for their jobs and do their work without soliciting the town people, go to a select board meeting and voice your concerns. Don't form an opinion before you hear both sides of the story, and be polite about it. Manners go a long way. Keep that in mind.

  16. An agenda would be helpful to organize meetings but there should be time for the citizens of the town to voice their concerns and opinions. This is their town and their taxes pay the salaries of the people running it and they should have the right to speak.Mr. Gray's comment did not indicate to me that he was speaking for the whole town and he clearly stated he was a previous selectmen. I understand the town office is reopening Tuesday and I for one, appreciate the willingness of neighboring town clerks for their help in this situation. I think this board is working very well together and has been handling the unexpected changes in a professional manner. I'm happy that this board welcomes citizens at meetings. There should always be transparency. Keep up the good work Select board of Chesterville. Change is always hard to accept but we are moving in a positive direction.

  17. Patricia.....wondering what you have against Scott Gray???? I thought his comment was fair and non-judgemental. He also, is a tax payer of Chesterville and a former Selectperson, so I think he is ALLOWED to speak his mind.

  18. I find it quite interesting that the ones with the most to say haven’t attended a selectmen’s meeting in 3 months or more. All of your information seems to come from the gossip hot line, rather than facts. If you had attended the meetings, you would have heard written complaints from a variety of citizens, as well as job performance issues in-house. Leadership seems to be in question, but let’s state it outright, many of you have a personal issue with one or more of the board of selectmen. Also, if this incident meant so much to you, why didn’t you question the board when you heard about it? I as one individual did not know this was happening, so I have to look at it as, if this is the new leadership and professionalism, it is certainly something this town doesn’t need. All of you could have raised questions to the board when you found out but did not. All of you could have contacted the towns attorney as he has all the information on performance and complaints. However, you didn’t, as you thought this would show how poor the board of selectmen is. Let’s just say at this point, this did not hurt the board, but hurt every taxpaying citizen that pays the bills. Just one more thought. As the budget is being proposed, this is the second year that there will be money added to the savings account if you will. Instead of overdrafts, the savings account has nearly doubled in two years, and yet we have raised less money for the budget over that time period. Where did all the other money go in previous years? Seems to me, this board has things well under control.

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