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Conway Notebook

Recorder/ Peter MacDonald an empty lot is all that remains of a building at 37 Academy Hill RD in Conway

Recorder/ Peter MacDonald an empty lot is all that remains of a building at 37 Academy Hill RD in Conway

Selectmen
to consider Sweet conflict before choosing road boss

CONWAY — A candidate for highway superintendent has formally disclosed to the state Ethics Commission a conflict of interest he may encounter if hired.

The disclosure may allow the Board of Selectmen to hire Ron Sweet of Conway for the $46,000 to $48,000 a year job. The selectmen accepted the disclosure statements and will consider them before choosing one of four final candidates, selectmen’s Chairman John O’Rourke said.

“This is part of the process of our decision-making,” O’Rourke said. “It’s an important step we have to consider along with advice from the Personnel Committee and our town counsel.”

The board was slated to make a selection this week, but pushed off its decision to consider the new information.

Sweet is the favored candidate of the Personnel Committee. He has worked in the department as the assistant road boss for three years. The Personnel Committee, however, recommended Sweet stay on as a foreman, which is similar to his current job, to avoid a conflict of interest because his son, Nicholas Sweet also works in the department.

Instead, the committee, recommended Mark Bernier, 51, of Turners Falls for the job. He is a former highway superintendent in the town of Huntington, where he worked for three winters, starting in May 1993.

The state conflict of interest law sets a penalty for a municipal employee who oversees an immediate family member or partner, who has a financial interest.

State law stipulates it is not a violation if the municipal employee first notifies and files the nature and circumstances of the situation and discloses the financial interest with the state Ethics Commission — which Sweet did this week. The commission does have some exceptions to the rule for small towns under 10,000 people. With a population of 2,000, Conway falls under that exemption.

O’Rourke said the board’s town counsel will inform the selectmen whether it is a violation of the conflict of interest law to hire Sweet. The selectmen would make a decision next week.

The superintendent oversees a $483,417 budget and four workers.

Residents approve $3,855 to pay off demolition costs

CONWAY — Town residents unanimously authorized the town to pay $3,855 from surplus for bills owed for the demolition of a house on 37 Academy Hill Road.

At a special town meeting, residents approved $3,330 to pay off remaining costs for a demolition and $525 for decommissioning the old well.

In May, residents voted to spend $90,000 to buy and demolish the house owned by the Edward Barber estate, along with an additional 0.31 acres. The total cost of the demolition was $15,000. Once the demolition began in August, the town found additional work was needed, including checking the house for asbestos and decommissioning the old well connected to the house.

The town will use the land for public access and parking for the town ball field and Town Hall on Academy Hill Road.

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