Former Public Works Director Jody Lewis' appeal of his termination by the town of Boothbay Harbor was denied during a special executive session of the town selectmen on Dec. 22 and 23.
The special session began at 6 p.m. with a conference of the selectmen and the town attorney, Matthew Tarasevich of Bernstein Shur.
After 18 minutes the meeting was reopened, but almost immediately went back into executive session to discuss the appeal.
This discussion went from 6:27 p.m. until 12:20 a.m. the next day.
Town Manager Tom Woodin was on one side of the room with his attorney, Susan Driscoll of Bergen Parkinson, who was named “Lawyer of the Year" for the year 2014-2015.
On the other side was Joseph “Jody” Lewis, with his attorney Linda Yarmosh.
A crowd of 25 individuals, made up both of witnesses and locals, came to the session. Even with the discussion lasting long into the night, the majority of locals stayed until the final decision was announced.
Multiple witnesses were called, including Nick Upham, Merritt Grover, Dale Harmon, Jon Ziegra, Clyde Burnham, Boothbay Harbor Police Officer Pat Higgins, former selectman Bob Splaine and others.
When the hearing was over and both sides retreated out of the meeting room so the selectmen could deliberate, Yarmosh said that Lewis has “done very well,” and that they had not discussed only the Pear Street water main break, but had in fact gone back through his entire disciplinary file.
When the meeting reopened, Board Chairman Denise Griffin asked for a motion by the selectmen.
Russ Hoffman moved that the selectmen endorse the town manager's termination of Jody Lewis under the town code — and deny Lewis' appeal.
Selectmen Wendy Wolf and Russ Hoffman voted in favor of this motion, while selectmen Bill Hamblen and Jay D. Warren voted against.
Griffin became the deciding vote.
“This is very difficult,” Griffin said. “Based on all of what I've heard tonight, most of which I had heard for the first time, I must vote in favor of the motion.”
After the meeting, local Bruce Engert stated to the room that the selectmen had conducted an illegal meeting at 5 p.m., as they had met with their lawyer in a meeting that was not disclosed to the public.
Tarasevich said Engert's information was incorrect, and while they had met to go over documents, it was not an illegal meeting.