At their meeting on Thursday, February 19, the Duxbury Select Board moved to suspend a road crew member after he ripped the exhaust off a town truck. In doing so, the board went against the recommendation of road foreman Adam Magee that the crew member be dismissed.
Magee would not comment on the personnel matter "for fear of losing my job," he said, but according to assistant road foreman and mechanic Mark Foster, this isn't the first time that the full-time town employee has damaged Duxbury property.
According to Foster, crew member Ron Kerin has wrecked two truck rear ends due to operator errors, and each cost the town about $6,000 to replace. In the two years that Kerin has been employed by Duxbury, he's also smashed a pickup truck mirror and he's bent a plow, Foster said, which cost about $500 and $1,000 to replace, respectively.
At Town Meeting on Tuesday, March 3, Duxbury voters will be asked to approve an expenditure from the Capital Reserve Fund not to exceed $198,054 (minus the $39,000 trade-in value of the town's 2003 tandem truck) for the purchase of a 2015 tandem truck.
Last week, however, Foster learned that the 2003 tandem truck, which had been in Kerin's keep, had structural issues that have required Foster to "red tag" the vehicle, or take it off the road, he said. On Monday, February 23, McLeod's Spring & Chassis in Barre estimated that the truck would cost about $4,000 to repair.
On the Duxbury road crew, "each employee has the responsibility of greasing their own truck and changing the oil and filters," Foster said. In assessing the structural issues with the 2003 tandem truck, McLeod's told Foster they were caused by a shortage of grease when the vehicle's piston pins froze and had to be cut out.
"Accidents happen," Foster said, speaking of past and current road crew members who have damaged town equipment. But with Kerin, "'I don't know how it happened' is his theme song," Foster said.
After Kerin ripped the exhaust off a town truck, road foreman Adam Magee presented documentation of the repairs that Kerin has necessitated to the select board and recommended that he be permanently dismissed. After deliberating, select board members Dick Charland, Mo LaVanway, Maureen Harvey and Marty Wells came out of executive session last Thursday and moved that Kerin instead be issued a letter of reprimand and suspended for two weeks without pay, effective Monday, February 23.
Because Foster is in charge of fixing the town's equipment, he's upset with the board's decision to continue to employ someone he feels "just doesn't care" and as a result is costing the town a lot of money, he said.
"I'm not going to work with the guy," Foster said of Kerin, explaining that if the town continues to employ the road crew member, it will be out an assistant road foreman. "I would have left already, but I have obligations to Adam," Foster said.
Foster, who lives in Hyde Park, hopes to bring up the personnel matter at Town Meeting next week, but he will need the support of two-thirds of the audience in order to be allowed to speak.