BELGRADE — Selectpersons spent more than two hours Tuesday night answering questions from members of the Board of Parks and Recreation about the recent dismissal of the town’s recreation director.

Town Manager Gregory Gill decided last month not to renew Jessica Moore’s contract. Gill has declined to say why because it’s considered a personnel matter.

Linda Bacon, director of the 10-member Board of Parks and Recreation, said Moore’s dismissal came as a shock and there wasn’t any indication that Moore’s contract wouldn’t be renewed.

Moore, who oversaw the Belgrade Community Center for All Seasons, had just received an excellent performance evaluation and was given a 3-percent raise, Bacon said.

“They pretty much answered most of the questions, and reiterated over and over again that it was a personnel question. They said, ‘No, we can’t go there,'” Bacon said of selectmen during the meeting. “I’m scheduled to meet with Greg (Gill) first thing Monday morning to resolve any issues with the job description before we look for someone else. The job was posted the weekend after Thanksgiving and applications will be accepted until noontime this Friday.”

Bacon said the way Gill handled the situation made the town look bad.

Gill showed up at the center with Selectman Ernie Rice a day before Moore’s contract expired and abruptly told her that he had decided not to renew her contract, according to Moore. The recreation director said she thought they had come to discuss her evaluation and renew her contract, which expired Nov. 23.

Moore said Gill has yet to provide an explanation for her dismissal.

“We didn’t ask that question and I don’t know if she has,” Bacon said. “But I would encourage her to present that question directly to Greg so she knows exactly the issues he was concerned about. But because there was a personality conflict, I don’t know if that will ever happen.”

Although town officials won’t discuss the dismissal, Moore, 37, said she believes she is without a job because of a confrontation she had with Gill over an employee who worked under her at the Belgrade Community Center for All Seasons.

The employee, who was not identified by officials, was appointed interim director when Moore took maternity leave last year.

Moore said selectmen gave her permission to keep the employee in April and May to help out, but selectmen made clear they wanted the employee gone by Aug. 19. Gill had the employee sign a contract that expired on that date.

Moore said the employee helped with administrative duties that allowed her to build a waterfront cottage, attend seminars on grant writing and start a summer camp for teens. The employee also was the summer camp coordinator.

“I wanted to extend her stay (past Aug. 19) and he said we need to find enough money to fund her wages. He told me to talk to the finance director,” Moore said of Gill. “I sent an email to the finance director and he told me we would have enough money to cover her salary until the end of September, so everything’s great.”

On Aug. 31, according to Moore, Gill visited with Moore and the employee for about an hour to discuss how summer camp went and he didn’t mention any problem with the employee staying on longer than the contract date.

The day after Labor Day, Gill called and asked if the employee was still working at the center, Moore said. She said someone had complained to Gill about the employee still being on the job after her contract had expired.

Moore said there was then confusion between herself and Gill over whether the select board should have been involved with the employee’s extension, and Gill later handed Moore a letter of reprimand. Moore says she was made into a scapegoat.

Bacon said her board will meet with selectmen and Gill to review the center’s policies and procedures to identify any gaps so there is less ambiguity over procedures.

“We want to know exactly the general categories (Gill) is responsible for when it comes to evaluating an employee,” Bacon said. “The board of parks and rec provides feedback and the implementation of rec programs, but there are other aspects when dealing with personnel that he is responsible for.”

Mechele Cooper — 621-5663

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