PUTNEY—At a recent Selectboard meeting — an event that typically sees disagreements worked out without noticeable acrimony — town officials read Windham County Sheriff Keith Clark their polite version of the riot act.
Days before the February 10 board meeting, Town Manager Cynthia Stoddard learned Clark was reassigning Corporal Melissa Evans, who had served as the town’s law enforcement officer for the last seven years.
“We’re pretty disappointed” in how this change was communicated to the town, Vice-Chair Joshua Laughlin told Clark.
Laughlin told Clark “two weeks’ [notice] would have been helpful,” and he said word of the change should have come from Clark, not Evans.
“I own that,” Clark said, apologizing for the breach in communication.
Putney has already gotten its new deputy, Clark said. His name is Josh Parro, and his certification level is about the same as Evans’ was when she began patrolling Putney, Clark added.
“I think he’ll work out very well,” Clark said, noting Parro had already started working in the town, assisting Evans with such things as motor vehicle issues.
Clark explained that a personnel change in his department happened sooner than he anticipated, and the lack of notice meant he had to move his staff around to cover the losses. He said the decision to reassign Evans was a hard one, and she was not happy with it because she fit in well with the town.
His error in no way was “meant to be a slight to the town,” Clark said, and, “looking back, I screwed that one up."
“I would agree with you,” Laughlin said.
“Going forward, we hope that you take away from this that the more you can communicate with us,” the better, Laughlin told Clark. “That’s important."
Clark expressed his agreement, and reiterated the error was “nobody’s fault but mine."
Town Manager Cynthia Stoddard said it would be “interesting to see how people react to this, because of what [Evans] brings to town."
Stoddard, Laughlin, and board member Scott Henry thanked Evans for her service and said she will be missed.