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Administrative assistant notes unauthorized use of municipal computer

NEWFANE—After a town employee warned the Selectboard of security issues with her computer in the town office building, board members said they will address the issue.

“I need to let the board know that on two separate occasions very recently, I have come [to my desk] to find my computer had been turned on,” after she had turned it off, Administrative Assistant Shannon Meckle told the Selectboard at the Aug. 15 meeting.

During one of those occasions, someone accessed files on Meckle’s computer, “and documents were up on my screen that I hadn’t been using,” she said.

Meckle changed her password, but after doing so she came to work and found error messages and the print queue open on her screen.

She heard twice from co-workers that two employees were seen either digging around in her desk or going through papers on top of her desk, she said. Meckle also noted the locking file cabinets were broken into in the past.

While some of the documents Meckle maintains are public, “there are files ... that shouldn’t be accessed” by just anyone, she said.

Selectboard Vice-Chair Carol Hatcher assured Meckle the board will take this issue seriously and put it on the agenda at the next meeting, likely in executive session, “because names will be named,” she said.

While town officials figure out what’s next for the town offices, Meckle asked the board to consider some security measures to her work area, such as a half-wall or cubicle with a lockable door.

“This is the A-1 reason ... we need some security in this office space,” Hatcher said, noting the town must spend some taxpayers’ money to make sure the offices are “safe and secure from people coming in and pilfering through records.”

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Originally published in The Commons issue #371 (Wednesday, August 24, 2016). This story appeared on page A5.

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