South Bristol Select Board members Bruce Farrin Jr. (left) and Chester Rice review documents on Thursday March 9, Rice’s final meeting after 26 years on the board. Rice did not seek re-election this year. (Photo by Elizabeth Walztoni)

A lawyer will investigate an alleged incident at the South Bristol city office in early January following the withdrawal of a consultant hired to create a report and recommend policy.

Don Gerrish, of Bangor-based consultancy firm Eaton Peabody, has terminated his contract and recommended the services of a lawyer at his firm, according to a letter read at the South Bristol Select Board meeting on Thursday, March 9.

The board accepted Gerrish’s services on March 1 to investigate and create a report on the alleged incident between then-tax collector Rob Lincoln and current city clerk Brenda Bartlett. The alleged incident prompted the resignation of Lincoln’s brothers, select board member Ken Lincoln and animal control officer Todd Lincoln, before his own later that month.

“This is way more than one consultant can handle,” Ken Lincoln said from the hearing Thursday after Gerrish’s retirement was announced.

A second part of Gerrish’s contract would have provided assistance in implementing policies and procedures for any future incidents, along with creating meeting recordings.

In the letter, Gerrish said he conducted his first interview with an involved party and determined that “the city would be better served with an experienced attorney.”

“Everything we tried to do went out the door,” Bruce Farrin Jr. said after reading the letter aloud.

Gerrish said he would still be interested in helping the city implement policies and procedures and start recording. Farrín said that he is open to these services, but a contract has not been presented.

Ken Lincoln asked if the meetings were already being recorded and the board said no. An audience member recorded the rest of the meeting on his cell phone.

Sarah Newell, the attorney Gerrish recommended to take over the investigation, specializes in employment law.

“She’s done this before. Hopefully we can do something,” Farrin said of Newell.

“That’s progress,” said Ken Lincoln.

Newell offered South Bristol a reduced rate of $250 per hour from his standard $310.

The money will come from the town’s $25,000 legal expense fund, with another $10,000 available in the contingency fund. If the fees exceed $35,000, a special town meeting will be held to approve additional funding, according to board chair select Chester Rice.

Audience members also asked who would enforce the new code of conduct and ethics policy, which requires all city officials and employees to sign a statement supporting the code and complete at least one hour of sensitivity training every anus.

According to Farrin, the select board enforces the policy. The board will have two new members, Adam Rice and Robert Clifford, at next week’s meeting after the city’s annual meeting.

Ken Lincoln’s seat on the board was available and longtime member Rice was not running for re-election.

Ralph Norwood III asked the audience if the policy also applied to the fire department. Rice said the policy would not do so unless the chief decided to adopt it.

Rice said the policy will be available in the future on a new city website currently under development. Audience members suggested that it could be uploaded to the existing website until then.

In other businesses, the city may hire a new company to replace the roof at South Bristol School. All Seasons Roofing, initially selected by the city, is unable to complete the roof this summer, according to school committee chairwoman Sara Mitchell.

The city council’s order item specifies that up to $100,000 will be spent for the replacement, but did not specify a contractor.

Rice said the work will be paid for by the city’s Anne Wilder Stratton Fund.

The South Bristol Select Board will meet at 6pm on Thursday 16th March at the city office.


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