May 21, 2018
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Tensions boil over at Lubec selectmen’s meeting

By Sharon Kiley Mack, BDN Staff

LUBEC, Maine — A Board of Selectmen’s meeting slipped out of control Thursday night when it became a shouting match among Chairman William Daye and parents in the audience. Profanities were tossed about, elected officials were shouted down, and eventually resident Tammy Dinsmore was ejected from the meeting for repeatedly using an expletive to describe Daye.

“This must look like ‘The Gong Show’ to the public,” said Selectwoman Joanne Case.

About 23 people attended the meeting, including many parents who were promoting a candidate for an open school board position. Before their behavior deteriorated, Dinsmore presented to Daye 150 letters of support for the parents’ candidate, Vern McKimmey.

Last June, Lubec voters authorized the school board to close the high school. The vote was close — just a 39-vote margin decided the issue — and pitted those who wanted to save taxes against parents seeking a local education for their children. The vote was prompted by a $500,000 loss in state subsidy.

The wound that vote caused in this community clearly was still raw as board members and the audience became emotional Thursday.

The selectmen received confirmation Thursday that Russell Wright, school board chairman, has resigned.

A group of parents in attendance said McKimmey was well qualified for the school board. However, two other names had been tossed into the running — Doug Wilson, the school board’s recommendation, and Ed Smith, a local parent.

After people from each side of the issue attempted to state their opinions, sometimes while shouting over each other, Case said she felt the entire issue should be brought to the public’s attention.

“I’d like to wait two more weeks and let anyone that is interested come and put their name in,” Case said. “We should be ashamed, arguing like this in public.”

The board voted unanimously to wait two weeks.

The selectmen have 30 days to name a replacement and said they will make a decision at their next meeting, at 6 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 30.

“I have been torn apart since this thing started,” Daye said after the vote. He said parties on both sides have said things and written letters to local newspapers that have hurt people’s feelings.

“I’d love to see a general election and let the people decide this,” he said. “But we can’t. I’ll be honest with you, this board may end up in the position of not preferring any of the candidates.”

Daye said it will be key to select a person that the school board can work with.

“This Board [of Selectmen] is all for that school being the best it could be,” he said.

Daye said the rift in the community is not going to be healed overnight.

“We have to give this process a chance,” he added.

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