BENTON — One of the last pieces of town business First Selectman Ryan Liberty handled before he resigned this week was to accept another letter of resignation — that of Town Clerk Julie Morrison.

Liberty, who was re-elected in March to a three-year term, is stepping down because he and his wife have moved to Wells, which is closer to where his wife works. He said town officials knew the couple would be moving, it was just a matter of when.

Liberty said Morrison left a letter announcing her resignation in his mail box at the Town Office, which he discovered before his final selectmen’s meeting on Monday.

Liberty said the twin quittings are a coincidence.

“She hadn’t given me a verbal (reason) or anything; just strictly the letter,” he said by phone Wednesday. “She said she was going to pursue other opportunities and that it wasn’t the greatest work environment for her.”

Liberty said he got along well with Morrison, who completed her fourth year as town clerk in March.

“In any office environment you’ll find there are occasional conflicts and in the past we’ve always done our best to resolve those conflicts,” he said.

Morrison could not be reached for comment Wednesday by telephone or via social media.

Selectman Kimberly Cormier was named first selectman at the Monday meeting. Melissa Patterson is the other town selectman.

Patrick Turlo, who had been deputy town clerk and a town office employee, was appointed town clerk by Cormier and Patterson during an emergency meeting of the select board Tuesday afternoon.

Turlo will remain Benton town clerk until Morrison’s term expires in March and new elections are held during the annual Town Meeting.

Nomination papers to complete Liberty’s term are available until the end of business Sept. 24. Election Day is Nov. 6.

Cormier was convicted last month of criminal trespass for refusing police orders to leave the grounds of the governor’s residence during an Occupy Augusta protest in November. She was fined $250 and told a reporter the misdemeanor conviction would not affect her ability to continue as a selectwoman in Benton. Her term expires in March.

In a faxed letter to the Morning Sentinel on Wednesday, longtime former Benton Selectman Charles Kent said Cormier “violated the oath of office as she broke the law and was arrested.”

Liberty disagreed, saying some Benton residents were proud of Cormier for standing up for what she believes.

“We were completely supportive of Kim’s views and it had nothing to do with her role as selectperson,” Liberty said. “She was expressing her opinion in a peaceful way.”

Patterson’s role as an elected selectman and a town employee was brought into question in 2011 with legislation proposed by state Rep. David Cotta, R-China, who represented part of Benton. The bill, which would have prevented a municipal officer from serving as a town employee, ultimately was rejected by the State and Local Government Committee.

Patterson’s term expires March 2014.

The next meeting of the Benton Board of Selectmen is 6 p.m. Sept. 10.

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