CLINTON — A handful of angry residents clashed with town officials Monday over the abrupt firing of the transfer station director this past weekend and other concerns that they say amount to unprofessional conduct and violations of municipal rules.

Much of that concern, expressed by about a half-dozen people at Monday night’s Board of Selectmen meeting at the Town Office, was aimed squarely at Town Manager Earla Haggerty.

Randy Clark, who served on the selectmen’s board for 15 years, attended the meeting to make sure the current board members heard his complaints over possible violations of the town’s charter.

“I believe when you elect an official you have to let them do their job but only if they follow the rules,” Clark said. “And that’s not being done here.”

Clark alleges that the board has violated parts of the town charter in two major ways: by discussing information regarding town contractors among one another and instructing the town manager on how to solve issues, instead of putting them on the agenda for the board to discuss at public meetings.

Clinton Town Manager Earla Haggerty, enters the Selectmen’s Room for a meeting Monday at the Clinton Town Hall. Morning Sentinel photo by Michael G. Seamans

But the main reason Clark and fellow citizens attended the meeting was to show support for Michael Hachey, the former director of Clinton and Benton’s Solid Waste Transfer and Recycling Station. Hachey was fired from the position last Saturday.

According to Hachey, he was terminated because he discussed his confusion over Benton’s delayed renewal contract with the dump to town selectmen and citizens.

“I had a Benton resident come into my site and ask me for a permit and I told them I had to wait because I didn’t want to issue permits if Benton didn’t have a contract,” Hachey said. “So, they went back to the town office, they didn’t know what was going on, they call Haggerty up and next thing I know I have a screaming phone call from her. She basically threw me under the bus to the town of Benton.”

Shortly after the phone call with Haggerty, Hachey says he was fired.

A letter Hachey received from Haggerty, dated July 1, says she had been scheduled to meet with him at 10 a.m. that day to give him an opportunity “to present your responses” to allegations against him they discussed on June 29.

“In absence of any response from you to change or offset the concerns and positions I expressed in the letter, I am issuing a final Notice of Decision ending your relationship with the Town of Clinton by not presenting your name of re-appointment as the Director of the Clinton Solid Waste Transfer & Recycling Center,” Haggerty wrote.

Haggerty goes on to write that Hachey has until July 9 to appeal his firing in writing to the Board of Selectmen and that his last day of paid employment would be July 6.

Clark directly addressed the board toward the end of the meeting to speak his piece in defense of Hachey.

“There’s some real issues happening in this town,” Clark said addressing the board. “There’s issues with the selectmen, the town manager, a lot of things are being done improperly. And I’ve heard nothing but good things about Mike. He’s the most qualified person to be running the dump and you just fire him.”

Testy exchanges punctuated Monday night’s meeting, including a moment from resident Charlie Door was escorted out of the board room by Clinton police officer. Dorr became upset after yelling at selectmen to speak louder and Stanley Bell, chief of police, asked Dorr to leave the meeting for being disruptive and escorted him out with another officer.

Resident Charlie Dorr becomes upset after yelling at selectmen to speak louder during a selectmen’s meeting go ignored in the Selectmen’s Room at the Clinton Town Hall on Monday. Stanley Bell, center, chief of police, asked Dorr to leave the meeting for being disruptive. Morning Sentinel photo by Michael G. Seamans

Additionally, many residents took issue with Haggerty’s choice of words in her annual town manager report which begins, “Anyone who thinks Clinton is a ‘one-horse town’ needs to put down their beer and get off the front porch.”

This statement didn’t sit well with Theresa Whittaker who’s been a resident of Clinton for 76 years.

“A real town manager wouldn’t write this garbage in a report,” Whittaker said. “The report is supposed to be about town issues, what’s happening and where the town is going. Her statements were just completely unprofessional.”

Haggerty goes on in her town report message to quote a longtime resident as saying Clinton “hasn’t been a ‘one-horse town’ since the mi 1960s when the Interstate 95 exit ramp came to town.

“I think he’s right,” Haggerty writes. “Maybe you can’t see it from the front porch but Clinton hosts more than 30 thriving businesses,” and she goes on to list many town locations. “And not one of these service establishments have a hitching post out front.”

Randy Clark, a former Clinton selectman and current member of the town’s personnel subcommittee, right, talks with Michael Hachey, former director of the Clinton-Benton Solid Waste Transfer and Recycling Station during a selectmen’s meeting Monday in the Selectmen’s Room at the Clinton Town Hall. Morning Sentinel photo by Michael G. Seamans

Clark and Hachey disclosed that they’ve hired lawyers to address Hachey’s termination.

Haggerty, who was reappointed as Town Manager and appointed as interim director of the waste center by the selectmen’s board at Monday’s meeting, declined to comment afterward.

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