CLINTON — The Clinton-Benton Solid Waste and Recycling Transfer Station opened as usual Wednesday, its first day of operation for the week, despite questions raised in the wake of the abrupt firing of the facility’s director.

After Michael Hachey was fired Saturday from his position as the director of the transfer station, the Board of Selectmen appointed Town Manager Earla Haggerty as interim director for the time being.

Attendees at Monday night’s selectmen’s meeting questioned the legality of the board’s decision because of Haggerty’s lack of training and credentials in waste management. The facility is open 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday.

“Mike (Hachey) is the only one with the credentials to be able to operate the facility,” former Selectmen Randy Clark said at the board meeting. “She (Haggerty) doesn’t have a license. That dump needs to stay closed.”

But Haggerty on Monday remained firm in her determination to open the dump for operation Wednesday morning. “I’m going to do some research and come back to the board,” Haggerty said, “but I intend to open that dump Wednesday morning.”

And that’s exactly what happened. The facility opened its gates at its regular time of 7 a.m. on Wednesday.

That has left Hachey puzzled.

“I guess all of the training and certifications I had to get from the Department of Environmental Protection don’t mean anything,” Hachey said in an interview Wednesday. “Why are they sending me to all these training seminars if anyone can open and run the station?”

Michael Hachey, right center, listens to the Monday selectmen’s meeting in the Selectmen’s Room at the Clinton Town Hall. Hachey was recently let go from his position as director of the Clinton-Benton Solid Waste Transfer and Recycling Station. Morning Sentinel photo by Michael G. Seamans

An employee at the dump who declined to identify himself said Wednesday morning that the facility itself is licensed and is therefore allowed to operate even without a director or under an interim director without licensed credentials.

According to Hachey, he was terminated because he discussed his confusion over Benton’s delayed renewal contract with the dump with 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, she gave him a letter of termination Saturday at the facility.

Hachey on Wednesday disclosed the details of the Saturday termination letter. In it, Haggerty accuses Hachey of personal and professional missteps over the course of a year that she felt were fire-able offenses. Those claims include Hachey allegedly allowing a commercial entity to use the transfer station after the town had terminated that use months earlier, allowing a contractor to use town equipment instead of its own, burying concrete piers, smoking outside the authorized smoking area, and being rude to transfer station users.

Haggerty’s most emphasized gripe against Hachey was that his “demeanor and attitude are inconsistent with the expectations of a Director’s position and continue to be detrimental to the town.”

The letter goes on to claim that Hachey has been rude to employees, community members and Haggerty herself throughout his time as director.

“You have been rude to the public, to the point where both the Select Board and I have consistently received citizen complaints and some citizens are now reluctant to use the transfer station,” Haggerty wrote. “You have been rude, uncooperative and disparaging with Selectmen and their instructions. … You have been rude and dismissive of me as your supervisor.”

But according to Hachey, these accusations are overblown.

“The only complaints I’ve gotten in 10 years were from the former town manager,” Hachey said. “Only three of them, and they’ve all been settled.”

The letter also stated that Hachey would be employed and on the payroll until this Saturday and had the opportunity to meet with Haggerty before then to respond to the letter before she made her final decision about his employment.

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

However, on Monday, Hachey received another letter from Haggerty, stating that the meeting was canceled and his professional relationship with the town of Clinton was officially terminated because of his failure to respond to his initial termination notice.

It’s unclear what happened between Saturday and Monday to change Haggerty’s decision. Nowhere in the termination letter Hachey received on Saturday does it state that he was required to respond in order for the meeting to stay scheduled.

The town of Benton was unable to participate in either the termination of Hachey and the appointment of Haggerty as interim director. Although Benton pays 45% in contracts to use Clinton’s waste facility, officials there have no control over what how Clinton manages the station.

Hachey has the opportunity to appeal his termination to the Board of Selectmen but has yet to say whether he plans to do so.

 

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