PITTSTON — Longtime Pittston Town Clerk Ann Chadwick was fired Wednesday night by a vote of the three-member select board, and shouts of protests began almost immediately from about 100 people who watched the brief vote.
“I think the townspeople have something to say,” one Chadwick supporter shouted.
“All three of you should see a shrink,” Sandra Eaton hollered at selectmen.
The crowd had been waiting in the meeting room at the Pittston Town Office while selectmen met in executive session to discuss a personnel issue.
Chadwick, 75, of Pittston attended that meeting.
“I offered to retire,” Chadwick said Wednesday. “I told them Monday I would like to stay through the election.”
The municipal election is set for March 18, and the annual Town Meeting is set for March 16.
On Wednesday, Chadwick said she told selectmen, “I would retire, but I would like a couple more days. If not, then you do what you’ve got to do.”
Selectman Tim Marks, who is also a local legislator, made the motion to “not reappoint” Chadwick to the roles of register of voters, clerk, deputy clerk and deputy tax collector. Selectman Ted Sparrow seconded it, and select board Chairman Wanda Burns Macomber voted with the other two.
Marks told the angry crowd they would not explain further. “It’s a personnel issue,” he said.
Burns Macomber told a reporter the board had consulted with town attorneys about their action. The board members said they had no further comment.
Debbie MacInnes told the board she was resigning from her job as ballot clerk, and a handful of other ballot and election clerks and counters said later they were quitting as well to show support for Chadwick.
“If they let Ann go, I’m out,” Joyce Dill said.
Chadwick’s family members, who also live in Pittston, came to the meeting prepared for the worst.
Daughter Lynn Chadwick brought a petition seeking the recall of Marks. Within 20 minutes, 33 residents had signed it.
Lynn Chadwick also shouted to the noisy crowd that she would bring petitions seeking the recall of the other two select board members to the Pittston Fire State parking lot at 6 p.m. Thursday for residents to sign.
The crowd had heard about Chadwick’s impending removal following Monday’s meeting, and Chadwick’s family and friends had sent out notices about Wednesday’s session via Facebook and other social media outlets, asking people to come and support her.
Ann Chadwick herself said she didn’t want so much fuss. “I don’t want it blown out of proportion,” she said.
The board sat tight-lipped as the residents gathered around Chadwick, hugging her, thanking her for her service, and telling her they had always preferred to be waited on by her at the Town Office.
Lisa Hall and her husband, Joseph, who have lived in Pittston for seven years, had brought written remarks about how much they appreciated Ann Chadwick’s service to themselves and to the town. However, they were not able to deliver them.
Gina Lathrop, who is reopening Brownie’s Restaurant in the next day or two after a 2.5 year hiatus said she heard about it just hours before the meeting as did a number of other attendees.
Iris and Charlie Erskine, who have lived in town for more than 55 years, said they came to the meeting “because they’re trying to railroad a wonderful lady.”
In the spring of 2009, Chadwick held the Town Office together almost single-handedly when selectmen terminated an administrative assistant and a part-time secretary after voters eliminated funding for those salaries.
Chadwick filled in for those vacancies plus performed the role treasurer/tax collector while that individual was on long-term leave and eventually terminated.
Betty Adams — 621-5631