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Dan Gray surprised by allegations of bullying

Gives different account of incident in Rooster’s Tavern lot

NORTHFIELD — Selectboard member Dan Gray said he was surprised to hear the allegations brought against him by a former restaurateur at a recent Selectboard meeting.

“I thought I’d left (Rooster’s Tavern) on good terms, after a nice conversation,” said Gray.

The person on the other end of that conversation said it was anything but nice.

On Oct. 22, Corinne Burnham, former owner of Rooster’s, took a seat at the Selectboard’s table and said that she’d felt bullied and harassed when Gray came to the restaurant where she works, asking that a $75 Board of Health permit be paid for.

She asked Gray to resign from the Selectboard as well as the Board of Health.

Burnham said that, on Oct. 10, Gray approached her at the restaurant, which she recently sold but still works at, and demanded that a $75 Board of Health permit for the new owner be paid. She said he held a padlock, and threatened to close the business that instant if the permit was not paid for.

“I didn’t have a padlock in my hand; I don’t know where she got that idea,” said Gray.

Gray said that he ran into Burnham as he was on his way into Rooster’s Tavern, and spoke with her in the parking lot.

“I asked for the guy that owns the place, and she said he wasn’t in, so I told her I’d try another time,” said Gray. “She said maybe she could help me.”

He said Burnham then asked why he was there, and he said he wanted to remind the new owner, Justin Masse, that he was missing a necessary permit for the restaurant. Burnham wound up writing Gray two personal checks on the spot. One was for Masse’s permit, the other for a permit that she hadn’t paid for when she still owned the restaurant.

“She offered me the checks; I didn’t demand them,” said Gray. He thought the two left on amicable terms.

He said he was taken aback when Burnham and Masse came to last Tuesday’s board meeting and accused him of “borderline assault.”

“The owner never called me, he just made assumptions based on what (Burnham) told him,” Gray said.

“It didn’t happen the way she said it did, but she and I were the only ones there,” he continued. “It’s my word against hers, but people who know me will know that I’m not like that.”

Gray said the Board of Health was always lenient with Burnham, allowing her to operate for several months after her own permit had lapsed.

“We told her to get to it when she could get to it,” he said. “We don’t like to be hard-asses.”

Burnham also accused Gray of running several businesses without a permit, and Town Clerk Gail Zukowski confirmed last week that she couldn’t find copies in her office of any permits issued to Gray.

Gray said he has his permits in order. The only one he had been missing, he said, was a permit to run a concession stand, and Gray said that has been rectified.

Gray also runs a small alpaca farm that doesn’t require a permit, as it is covered by Northfield’s right-to-farm bylaw.

His largest business, a portable toilet rental company called A1 Enterprises, operates in Bernardston, so a Northfield permit was not needed.

Gray was hopeful after last week’s Board of Health meeting. Masse showed up, shook hands with the members, including Gray, and left with his permit.

“I think we’re on the road to recovery,” Gray said. “It’s water over the dam as far as I’m concerned.

David Rainville can be reached at:
drainville@recorder.com
or 413-772-0261, ext. 279

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