George Jellison, a selectman in Southwest Harbor. Jellison believes that there already are "viable candidates" for trustees of the town's water and sewer board. The board ultimately decided to advertise for trustees, which will take longer, to ensure that any interested parties are able to come forward. ISLANDER FILE PHOTO

Water trustees wanted

SOUTHWEST HARBOR — Discussion of adding two more members to the Southwest Harbor Water and Sewer District Board of Trustees proved divisive Tuesday during a meeting of the Board of Selectmen.

At issue was how best to find candidates. The Maine Legislature recently approved an amendment to the charter for the quasi-municipal water and sewer district increasing the number of trustees from three to five, effective Nov. 1. Consideration of two applicants at an Oct. 24 meeting was tabled after selectmen agreed to develop a description of the duties of a trustee and advertise the openings so any interested person could apply.

The discussion Tuesday began with selectmen reviewing a description of the duties compiled from the district’s charter by Chairman Lydia Goetze.

“I don’t think we need a job description for this,” said Selectman George Jellison.

Jellison said he was satisfied with the two candidates — Lee Worcester and Ralph Dunbar Jr. — who came before them in October. Both are former town officials and fully qualified, he said.

“These are viable candidates,” Jellison said.

Goetze argued that the process for selecting trustees has to be “transparent” and open to all.

“I know there are other people out there interested in serving,” she said.

Selectman Dan Norwood said he agreed with Jellison about the qualifications of Worcester and Dunbar and pointed out the need to appoint the new trustees as soon as possible.

One of the trustees is Town Manager Don Lagrange, who is out on extended medical leave. That leaves the group with no quorum if one of the other trustees has to miss a meeting. With one of those trustees going on vacation during the ongoing budget process, it is crucial to have the two new trustees involved, Norwood said.

Earlier in the meeting, Selectman Chad Terry and Goetze stressed the importance of finding the right people for the positions. The job is quite different from serving on town boards and committees that are of an advisory nature, because they manage sizeable assets, Goetze said.

The trustees should come under greater scrutiny than committee members, Terry said, because they are responsible for $10 million in sewer and water infrastructure.

In the end, selectmen came together, voting 5-0 to direct interim Town Manager Marilyn Lowell to post the description of the duties and the call for applicants at the town office, the post office and “any other gathering place you see fit.”


Mark Good

Mark Good

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Mark Good

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