MONMOUTH — Colleen Fournier’s tumultuous tenure on the Board of Selectmen came to an abrupt end Wednesday when she turned in a resignation letter blasting town officials as dysfunctional, disrespectful and dismissive.

Fournier, whose three-year term was set to expire in June 2013, submitted the missive to Town Manager Curtis Lunt about an hour before Wednesday’s regularly scheduled selectmen’s meeting. Selectmen voted during the meeting to declare a vacancy on the board until the annual Town Meeting in June, when voters will pick a replacement to complete Fournier’s term.

Fournier’s resignation comes less than a week after she and her husband, Dennis Fournier, moved out of their Academy Road home.

“I asked her where she moved and she wouldn’t tell me,” Lunt said. “We don’t know where she went.”

Attorney Stephen Langsdorf, who represents Colleen Fournier in an unrelated lawsuit that was brought against her by a neighbor, said he knew Fournier planned to move to Augusta. “I presumed she was planning to resign,” he said.

Fournier’s resignation letter spells out a litany of complaints that include a general tendency among the other board members to ignore her input and intimidate her. She did not return a phone call seeking comment.

“I never expected that serving my community would ever put me in a position of being treated with such contempt by some of my fellow board members,” Fournier said. “The experience of being physically assaulted for offering to serve as a participant of a committee was my first threatening experience on the board.”

The assault claim dates to a December 2010 selectmen’s meeting during which Fournier offered to serve on a police chief search committee. Fellow board members rejected the offer. Fournier, seeking an explanation after the meeting, said she was shoved by Selectman Douglas Ludewig. Ludewig said Fournier charged at him and he deflected her attack in an effort to defend himself.

The Kennebec County Sheriff’s Department investigated, but no one was charged.

Fournier further claims in her resignation letter that she was verbally attacked by other board members. At one point, she said, a board member said that nobody listened to her.

“These comments were both disrespectful and inappropriate,” Fournier said.

Fournier’s letter urged the board to keep its commitment to maintain the tax rate. She said the toxic atmosphere on the board made her unable to continue serving.

“The total experience of contempt and disrespect exhibited toward me and the community by fellow board members has emphasized the lack of integrity held by the board,” Fournier said. “There has been unethical behavior, lack of moral character and non-professionalism on the part of some board members.”

None of Fournier’s allegations include specific dates or the names of those responsible. Ludewig, who described Fournier’s claims as far-fetched, recalled the board discussing her suggestions and voting on them, particularly during her first year of service.

“It’s the way she saw things,” he said. “Other members of the board didn’t see things that way. I don’t feel she was treated badly.”

But, Ludewig said, Fournier was sometimes intimidating and argumentative, which tended to grate on the board members. Lunt tried on a few occasions to soften her approach, Ludewig said.

“Curt (Lunt) tried to talk to her about the proper way of doing things,” Ludewig said. “She said she wanted to do things her way.”

Fournier seemed unwilling to gain experience before asserting a leadership role, Ludewig said. Her attempt to insert herself on the chief’s search committee is perhaps the most glaring example, he said.

“She’d only been on the board a short time,” Ludewig said. “The other members of the board who had been on a longer period of time felt that it wasn’t proper for her to have that role.”

Other disputes

Reginald Merriam, who lives across the street from the former Fournier property, said he had many problems with his neighbors.

“They tried everything under the sun to provoke me to violence so that they could sue me,” Merriam said. “That’s what it’s been all summer.”

Merriam said he and Fourniers were friendly at one point, but the relationship broke down when Colleen Fournier tried unsuccessfully to persuade Merriam and neighbor Martin Bumann to join town committees in an effort to expand her influence. Merriam said neighborhood relationships worsened last year when Bumann published a letter in a local newspaper urging residents to vote against Dennis Fournier in his bid to join his wife on the board of selectmen.

Merriam said the Fourniers started verbally harassing him and his wife soon after the election.

In July, Fournier and former selectwoman Sharon Wing formed Hrd Knx Academy, which filed paperwork with the state to copyright the name of Bumann’s painting business and Selectmen Timothy McDonald’s computer business.

Bumann filed suit against Hrd Knx, Fournier and Wing in December in Kennebec County Superior Court. Bumann’s attorney, George Dilworth, said in court documents that Fournier and Wing secured the copyrights in an effort to hurt Bumann’s business as part of a political vendetta.

Dilworth did not return a message seeking comment Thursday, but Fournier’s attorney, Stephen Langsdorf, said the case is scheduled for mediation next month.

The neighborhood hostility peaked on Feb. 17 as the Fourniers packed their moving truck. Merriam, in response to a ceramic pig the Fourniers had fitted with a sign bearing Merriam’s name, put up a sign in his yard claiming the Fournier’s were, “mooving out because they used to moo at my wife,” Merriam said.

“They really got mouthy so I went inside and wrote a sign that said, ‘Law breakers on the move,'” he said.

Merriam was issued a summons charging him with harassment.

“Even though I got a summons and everything, I felt so good to see those guys pull out — it was unbelievable,” Merriam said. “Hopefully they’ll never be back.”

Craig Crosby — 621-5642

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