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Peru begins hard road forward
PERU -- With a packed room of sputtering Peruvians at Monday night’s selectmen’s meeting, the first since they ousted four of the five board members, the lone recall survivor, Laurieann Milligan, called the meeting to order. She notified citizens that the only order of business able to be conducted was that of setting the special election to restore the board to it’s full capacity.
The election will be held on Tuesday, April 9, at the town office. Polls will open at noon and close at 6 p.m.
“Due to our ordinance I will open the floor up to public participation,” stated Selectman Milligan. “You will be allowed your 20 minutes, but I will not be able to give you any definitive response, due to the limited select body.”
Dawna Kazregis spoke out from the corner of the room where Martha Witherall had set up the video camera that has come to be a staple at all meetings, “How will the town be run?”
Selectman Milligan stated, “By law we have been informed by MMA (Maine Municipal Association) that we can only cut our payroll. We have to pay our employees or we will be penalized.”
Kazregis rejected Milligan’s reply and rebutted, "I don't believe that. I spoke with the head of MMA, John Patrick, today and was informed that the town could not conduct any business with only one person on the board."
The floor was then given to Tammy Ferland requesting when absentee ballots would be available.
Town clerk Vera Parent stated that they would be ready by March 26.
With no other citizens stepping forward, Selectman Milligan called the meeting to adjournment at 6:03.
As citizens emptied out of the meeting room, comments were heard about how things needed to change and "what a mess things were."
Warren Oldham stated, "We've got quite a mess on our hands now. But, we knew all of this when we started. It's just how we planned it."
The group gathered outside for what looked like a school-yard contest to see who could get their nomination papers signed by the most citizens and to have their voice heard by becoming a selectman at the April vote.
There are four seats available; the first, a two-month term, will expire in June 2013, the second, a 14-month term, will expire in June 2014, the third, a 26-month term, to expire in June 2015 and the fourth, a three year term, to expire in June 2016.
Those citizens who took papers out as of Monday, were Danny Wing, Larry Snowman, John Witherall, Lee Merrill, Wayne Moore and Tammy Ferland. Wing had already turned his in prior to the meeting.
Valerie Taylor was the only one present who had taken out papers for the secretary position.
When asked if she had taken papers out for selectman, Dawna Kazregis guffawed, "No way, are you kidding. I wouldn't touch that rat's nest."
Danny Wing noted, “Now’s a good time to get everything straightened out. I don’t like to see the town in this position and we need to get back on track.”
Tammy Ferland stated, “I only took papers out for the two month seat. I don’t know what the hell I’m thinking, but I guess we’ll see what happens. We’ve come this far, so why not? We'll just see what happens.”
John Witherall, standing outside, stated, “We need to settle the damn town a little bit. We need to change a few things. There’s a lot of people with a lot on their minds.”
Larry Snowman, a resident of Peru since 1984, was among those seeking signatures and stated, “I want to see if I can make a difference. See if we can pull this place back together.”
Valerie Taylor, the only person present to take out papers for the secretary position noted that she worked for the state for five years and helped run her husband’s business after that. “I think I’m qualified for the job. I’ve kept books for a long time.”
The deadline to get nomination papers back to the town office for the two-, 14- and 26-month terms is March 22. The deadline for the three-year term and the secretary position is April 26.
Following the meeting, Selectman Milligan stated, “We need to forgive the past and possess positive thoughts for the future. Though I am very sad about the recall of my fellow selectmen, I must now turn my attention to the future, our future, the town of Peru’s future. To my fellow Peruvians, please put your best foot forward and help others to do the same in moving forward. We are at a crucial time in the history of Peru and calmer times must prevail in order to get our town back on track. Peru has always been a great town and will be once again, as long as we have the best interest of our town at heart.”