May 21, 2018
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Rockport picks up legal bills in employee probes

By Stephen Betts, BDN Staff

ROCKPORT, Maine — The town has agreed to pay for the legal fees incurred by town employees who were connected to a personnel investigation.

The Rockport Selectboard voted unanimously on March 6 to pay all legal expenses of certain employees connected to the recent investigation. The cost was $3,040. The town, however, has not identified the employees or the employee who filed complaints against them on Jan. 15 and Feb. 1.

The Selectboard also voted unanimously on March 6 to accept the report of attorney Melissa Hewey of the law firm of Drummond Woodsum of Portland who found no basis for the complaints. Hewey served as the town’s equal employment opportunity officer.

The town did release a letter last month reporting that executive assistant Karla VanAlstine was fired, effective Feb. 7, at the recommendation of two department heads — Finance Director Virginia Lindsey and Assessor Kerry Leichtman.

VanAlstine’s firing came a week after then Town Manager Robert Peabody was placed on administrative leave. He later resigned and was given a severance package that called for him to receive 12 weeks pay as well as his unused sick and vacation time. The severance totaled $52,836.

The town has been mum on the reasons for Peabody’s negotiated severance agreement and has not stated whether Peabody’s departure and the firing of VanAlstine were connected.

The town incurred legal expenses of $13,293 through Jan. 30 in connection with the personnel matters. The town also was represented during the personnel probe by attorney William Plouffe of Drummond Woodsum.

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