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Administrative assistant resigns, throwing town offices into further disarray

PUTNEY—Laura Barcomb, the town’s long-time administrative assistant, has resigned. This comes on the tail of months of personnel-related tumult in the Town Offices.

Barcomb, who was hired in August 2006, announced her departure at the Aug. 30 regular Selectboard meeting. Her last day was Sept. 12. Barcomb has taken an accounts payable/payroll clerk position with the Windham Southeast Supervisory Union.

“I can’t say enough about your patience with us and all of your hard work here over the years and you will be very sorely missed,” Selectboard Chair Scott Henry told Barcomb.

Interim Town Manager Chip Stearns told Board members, “this puts me in a rather peculiar position.”

Stearns is filling in until March 2018, while the Selectboard decides what to do about hiring a Town Manager. Stearns came on through the New England Municipal Resource Center after former Town Manager Cynthia Stoddard resigned at the end of July.

Stoddard worked for Putney for 11 years, as town manager and finance director.

Denise Germon, the new town clerk and treasurer elected at Town Meeting in the beginning of March, stopped showing up for work on May 26. Germon has neither announced her resignation nor her plans to return, Selectboard Clerk Josh Laughlin told The Commons. Germon could not be reached for comment.

With Germon’s departure, Assistant Town Clerk Barbara Taylor has run the office with help from Assistant Treasurer — and former Treasurer and Town Clerk — Anita Coomes. But, with Taylor’s part-time employment status, the town clerk office’s hours are limited until Germon returns or resigns.

During last year’s budget negotiations, the Selectboard created a new, appointed position — bookkeeper — to assume most of the town treasurer’s duties not legislated by statute. Leah Loomis was hired on a part-time basis at the end of June, just before the new fiscal year started.

Stearns suggested the Selectboard “move as quickly as possible” to increase both Loomis’s hours and her training so “we can still produce warrants and we can still have payroll and the phones get answered.”

“Because, ultimately,” Stearns told the Selectboard, “after [Sept.] 12, it’s just me.”

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Originally published in The Commons issue #425 (Wednesday, September 13, 2017). This story appeared on page C1.

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