CHELSEA — Town Manager Angela Gordon abruptly quit Wednesday after selectmen requested an executive session to discuss her award of a $2,900 road contract to Marshall Swan.

Swan is the subject of county and federal corruption probes and the husband of a selectman arrested in February for allegedly accepting kickbacks from a Whitefield plow contractor.

Gordon’s departure closed the Town Office for a time and idled town business.

Town attorney Stephen Langsdorf said selectmen called the executive session Wednesday to also discuss issues selectmen had with Gordon’s performance as town manager.

“Basically, we were ready to go into executive session, and she declined to go in and resigned her position on the spot,” Langsdorf said Thursday. “Selectmen made a motion to accept her resignation.”

Selectman Linda Leotsakos, chairman of the board, said she and Selectman Michael Pushard voted to accept Gordon’s resignation. Selectman Carole Swan abstained.

Messages left for Gordon were not returned Thursday.

Langsdorf said he requested Kennebec County sheriff’s deputies at the Town Office after learning from Gordon she planned to meet with someone from the state at 8 a.m. Thursday to work out details of her departure.

“I didn’t feel totally comfortable with that,” he said. “How could she have gotten a hold of someone from the state (Wednesday) night? I felt that it was in the interest of safety to have (deputies) come over this morning. It made sense.”

Langsdorf said he spoke with Ralph St. Pierre, assistant city manager of Augusta, and arranged for the city to lend someone from the Augusta clerk’s office to help out until selectmen can find an interim town manager to replace Gordon.

The town also is looking for a temporary clerk to fill in for Town Clerk Flavia “Cookie” Kelley.

Kelley took personal leave last month and, according to town officials, is not expected to return for “at least another month,” Leotsakos said.

That may spell the end of Kelley’s municipal service in Chelsea — she is working under a contract that’s invalid because it was not signed by selectmen.

The contract, which ends June 30, includes pay that exceeds that of clerks in most neighboring towns. With no municipal experience, Kelley was given four weeks of vacation and 12 paid sick days a year during her first year, plus full health insurance benefits and a salary of $17.50 per hour. A Kennebec Journal survey of municipal salaries in the Augusta area found that package is more lucrative than any for a town clerk in a municipality Chelsea’s size.

“(The Augusta clerk) will be appointed so she can run the Town Office and assist with elections temporarily until we can get somebody in here,” Langsdorf said.

Municipal elections are scheduled for June 28, including a vote to fill the selectman’s seat soon to be vacated by Swan, who faces forgery and other charges and is accused of accepting kickbacks from a Whitefield plow contractor. Town Meeting is June 30.

Langsdorf said the clerk from Augusta opened the Town Office at 9:30 a.m. Thursday, and that the town will maintain new hours until a full crew is on board: The Town Office will be closed Mondays and open Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 9 a.m. until noon, and Fridays from 1 to 4 p.m.

“This is so the town isn’t completely shut down,” he said.

He said Chelsea and Augusta officials still have to work out the cost of borrowing a city clerk.

“I’m sure an arrangement can be worked out by the respective towns,” Langsdorf said. “They were generous enough to offer to do this.”

Gordon awarded a $2,900 road grading job to Marshall Swan recently. But a Public Utilities Commission official arrived at one of the job sites, on Tasker Road, and found Swan in violation of Dig Safe laws because he lacked a Dig Safe permit.

The state requires anyone who digs to notify utility companies before starting a job.

Langsdorf said that, for now, selectmen will allow Swan to continue working on the grading project, once he has the permits.

Langsdorf said there is a process to follow in a new procurement ordinance that will be voted on at Town Meeting to determine when contractors can be allowed to bid on town projects.

“The old ordinance doesn’t adequately address that at all,” Langsdorf said.

Kennebec County Sheriff Randall Liberty has said Swan’s business dealings with the town are being investigated by his office and the FBI.

Mechele Cooper — 621-5663

[email protected]