The race for the select board and the road commissioner position pits two town officials against two candidates who have criticized the board members and the contractor who plows the town’s roads.

The town is holding its election from noon to 7 p.m. Friday, June 27, at the Hall-Dale Middle School gym, a day before Town Meeting.

Doug Ebert, chairman of the Board of Selectmen, is facing Nancy Frost, a member of the town’s Road Advisory Committee. In the race for road commissioner, Keith Kalloch and William Rogers are competing for the position Kalloch currently holds. In the Regional School Unit 2 school board race, board member Jon Lambert is running for re-election unopposed.

Ebert, who has held the position for the last three years, said he wants to continue with the work he and the other board members have been doing, including moving the town office toward using computers more.

He said the town has moved budgeting and licensing to computers, and they would like to begin offering residents the option to pay with debit and credit cards at the town office and offering online vehicle registration.

“The biggest thing is trying to move the town forward,” Ebert said. “We’re trying to get things to continue to move smoothly. And when we keep changing people every three years, every time there’s a new person, it gets hard to continue the work that you’ve been doing.”

In last year’s election, newcomer James Grant handily defeated the chairman of the select board, Rickey McKenna, 207-77.

As part of the campaign, Grant passed out a six-page packet of information that questioned money paid to Ellis Construction, the plowing contractor, for road projects and winter road salt.

Frost is using a similar strategy this year, handing out a double-sided document accusing the selectmen of engaging in unethical behavior by not posting some public meetings and claiming that the board has overpaid Ellis Construction for the plowing contract and has allowed the contractor to violate the contract.

The three-year winter road maintenance contract is a point of frequent contention in the town.

Ellis Construction, on Northern Avenue in Farmingdale, has held the contract for the last four winters. The board’s decision in August 2013 to award the three-year $487,500 contract to Ellis Construction, the lowest bidder, drew objections from around a dozen residents.

Since the board awarded the contract, several residents from the group who opposed it, including Frost, have regularly attended the meetings and complained about the work done by Ellis and about issues ranging from equipment requirements in the contract to the contractor being paid to do extra work requested by the town and state.

Most of those issues in the document, such as the extra payments to the plowing contractor, were addressed by the board at previous meetings and cleared by the town attorney.

Ebert has admitted that parts of the contract were poorly written and said that the vague areas that have created the issues will be addressed, including whether the contractor is responsible for paying for the sand available to residents at the town office. He also has said it should be clear in the next contract in two years that the plowing contractor will take care of any refrozen ice on roads — if requested by the road commissioner — without charging the town extra.

“We’ve had issues with every contract with a certain number of residents,” Ebert said in an interview in March. “This is not different than any of the other contracts we’ve done. It’s town politics. Someone is going to have a problem with something you do all the time.”

Frost said the issues are more black-and-white.

She said she doesn’t think it’s right Ellis Construction billed the town for the sand and salt available to residents at the town office even though the town attorney told the selectmen the contract doesn’t specify that the contractor has to pay for it.

Frost, who works at the nonprofit Women Unlimited, also has strong objections to receipts for liquid calcium chloride Ellis Construction submitted. The slips were photocopies of a receipt from Paris Farmers Union for 2,500 gallons of the brine.

The town attorney approved the receipts after Chris Ellis, an owner of Ellis Construction, said they were meant to show when his company moved the liquid from a tank to the trucks.

Ebert said the board is still looking into whether Ellis Construction used enough calcium chloride to pre-wet the sand and salt last winter and what steps the town may take.

But Frost is calling the slips fraudulent, emphasizing the claim with capital letters and several exclamation marks in her campaign materials.

However, she said doesn’t know what she would do differently in the position, and she’s “sure the select board has to leave it be.”

Frost is also supporting Rogers for road commissioner. Gary Choate, another resident who opposed awarding the contract to Ellis Construction, has been parking an old firetruck around town with both Frost’s and Roger’s campaign signs.

Rogers, who petitioned to return the position to an elective one, resigned suddenly last May after the selectmen asked to speak with him in executive session. Two weeks earlier, Rogers used a racial slur twice at a select board meeting to refer to undesirable work a selectman asked him to do.

Rogers said in a recent interview he should have used a different word. He said he decided to run because he didn’t want it to be a one-man race, and he wants to make sure the board doesn’t show favoritism to any one contractor.

“I’m not racist. (The selectmen) can do whatever makes them happy,” Rogers said. “The people in the town are the ones that are going to make the final decision.”

Paul Koenig — 621-5663

[email protected]

Twitter: @paul_koenig


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