FARMINGDALE — Selectmen walked out 30 minutes into Wednesday night’s board meeting after they were continously berated by a group of men and had a confrontation with the retiring town clerk, who also walked out.

Deputy Clerk Deborah Barry surprised selectmen at the start of the meeting by handing in her resignation.

Later, Town Clerk Phyllis Weeks stormed out of the meeting after an emotional back and forth with the board.

The entire meeting was punctuated by criticism and cat calls from the only members of the audience, town residents Rudy Martin, Russell Hubbard and Barry’s husband, Ted Barry. A fourth man was also with the group.

In her resignation letter Wednesday, Barry wrote that she was hurt that she was passed over for the Town Clerk job. Weeks, who is retiring at the end of the month, had recommended Barry succeed her.

“I have been with this town for 23 years, and you had no regard to my years (of) experience,” she wrote. “It gave me no choice but to look elsewhere for a job to excel in.”

Martin, Hubbard, Ted Barry and the fourth man loudly criticized the board among themselves during the short meeting and frequently directed remarks to the two board members present, Chairman Rickey McKenna and David Sirois. Selectman Doug Ebert wasn’t at the meeting.

“When are you guys going to quit? ‘Cause we’re tired of you,” Hubbard said to the pair.

“You’re all gutless,” said Martin. “You’re gutless people. You’re scumbags.”

“Bring it,” responded Sirois, motioning for Martin to come forward.

“They just wanted to make a scene,” McKenna said on Thursday. “They’re a group of people that no matter what’s going on in town, they have a problem with it.”

Barry, whose last day is June 26, is becoming the town clerk in Pittston.

Pittston’s clerk, Rose Webster, is replacing Weeks in Farmingdale.

Weeks announced in August that she will retire at the end of June. She said she was told by the selectmen that the town needed to move forward.

When asked to elaborate after Wednesday’s meeting she said, “I’m retiring. Let’s leave it at that.”

Weeks has been with the town for 27 years this month. She strongly recommended in her resignation letter that the board promote Barry to town clerk.

McKenna said Barry was one of the four candidates interviewed by the personnel committee for town clerk.

“It’s too bad she didn’t get the position, but the (committee) chose who they thought was the best candidate, and the selectmen agreed with it,” he said.

The meeting, already punctuated by the remarks of the men, became emotional when Weeks, visibly upset, asked the selectmen if they didn’t introduce her to Webster, her replacement, because they’re ashamed.

Sirois denied being ashamed of Weeks and told her she’s been like his big sister.

Weeks scoffed at the notion and said one of the selectmen once left a notebook on a table that said Weeks didn’t step up to the plate and meet their expectations when assessing.

“How do you think that made me feel, that I didn’t meet your expectations? Now don’t tell me that I’ve been your big sister,” she said to Sirois.

“Wow, what a deception,” Sirois said.

“Yeah, tell me about it,” Weeks said.

“What else have you done?” Sirois asked Weeks.

“What do you mean? What? What else have I done?” Weeks asked. “You left the notebook on the table wide open.”

Weeks gathered her papers and notebook and stormed out of the office.

“You just may have an empty office in the morning,” she said as she left.

The men continued to berate the two selectmen after Weeks walked out.

“That is something, you’re something there, mister,” Martin said to Sirois. “You ought to … resign.”

“You having fun?” McKenna asked the group.

“I am having fun,” Martin replied.

“Want to know something?” Sirois said. “This is why people don’t get involved in town politics.”

The group continued telling Sirois to resign.

“When I started running, the first time, people asked me, ‘Why would you want to do this?'” Sirois said. “Now I’m asking myself the same question.”

Sirois didn’t respond to a phone call for comment on Thursday.

McKenna said he doesn’t anticipate any loss of services as a result of the transition in the town clerk’s office. He said the town will hire a deputy clerk to replace Barry.

Weeks said after Wednesday’s meeting that she was taken aback when Sirois asked her if there’s anything else she had done.

“It shocked me that it would be said. It totally shocked me,” she said. “It hurt me a lot, and I don’t know why it would even be said.”

The meeting comes after things in town were already heating up politically leading up to next Friday’s election.

Earlier this week, James Grant, a candidate for McKenna’s seat, accused someone from McKenna’s campaign of taping a forged letter with Grant’s signature to mailboxes around town. The letter apologized for alleged half-truths in Grant’s campaign materials.

Grant has been distributing a six-page collection of documents from two construction project records and excerpts of newspaper clippings about construction and plowing contracts.

The packet attempts to paint a picture of wasted town money and favoritism exhibited by the selectmen for Ellis Construction, a local contractor.

McKenna said he didn’t have anything to do with the letter and won’t get involved in negative campaigning.

The two men will compete for the selectman’s seat at the ballot box from noon to 7 p.m., Friday, June 21, at the Hall-Dale Middle School gym.

Paul Koenig — 621-5663
[email protected]

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