PITTSTON — Concerns about how snow plowing is handled in town boiled over Wednesday at the Board of Selectmen meeting, revealing fractures on the three-member board and drawing sharp exchanges between a resident and members of the board.

Near the start of the meeting, Selectman Jean Ambrose said she received a call from Sam Snow, Pittston’s road commissioner, and she called Greg Lumbert, who was recently voted chairman of the board.

“You were about as rude as any man could be to me,” Ambrose said of Lumbert. “You were swearing on the phone; you were telling me what I thought and what I shouldn’t think — ”

“I did tell you what I thought,” Lumbert said. “You wanted to fire Steve McGee’s crew. And I hadn’t had a chance to go out and look at things. I did go out and look at things, and I did call you back.”

“You didn’t let me finish,” Ambrose said.

Since the start of winter, the selectmen have entertained comments about snow plowing. In Pittston, there are three plow routes. Snow has a contract to plow one of the routes, and McGee Construction plows the other two.

The exchange prompted resident Cheryl Peaslee to speak from the audience and challenge Lumbert.

“You’ve gone after so many people since you got in here,” Peaslee said. “Can’t you be nice to anybody?”

She also challenged Roger Linton, who has announced his retirement from the board and recently stepped down as chairman, and how the new chairman was chosen.

“It should have gone to Jean as the senior member,” she said.

Peaslee is Ambrose’s sister.

At a meeting earlier this year, the board set the policy that road complaints ought to go to Lumbert to register them.

But Ambrose said anyone in town can call on any member of the Board of Selectmen.

“Sam called me, and I called you,” Ambrose said to Lumbert.

She said there have been instances where Lumbert’s behavior has been disruptive and he has “acted like the king of the hill.”

For his part, Lumbert said he acted professionally.

Linton said the decision to have calls go to Lumbert made sense because he has the equipment and the knowledge to look at the roads.

Pittston’s Town Meeting is March 16, and its town election is March 18.

Lumbert is running for re-election. Rodney Hembree III is running for the same seat.

After the meeting, Linton said he stepped down as chairman because he didn’t want to be a lame duck at Town Meeting. He said there’s no charter or rules in place that dictate how a chairman is selected.

Lumbert said complaints about snow plowing have been talked about at nearly every meeting this winter.

“Communication is the key to it. That’s all I have to say,” Lumbert said.

Ambrose said conflicts like these, to varying degrees, have been going on since Lumbert was elected.

She said, typically, the chairman is elected after Town Meeting, not before. And she’s not concerned about not being chairman. She’s concerned because the decision to elect Lumbert chairman appears to have been decided before the meeting.

The vote on that matter was 2-1, with Ambrose voting no.

Peaslee had fliers for Hembree and said she hoped people would vote at the town election.

 

Jessica Lowell — 621-5632
[email protected]
Twitter: @JLowellKJ


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