BELLOWS FALLS -- The unified slate of candidates elected at Town Meeting began without former chairwoman Janice Mitchell-Love at the table.
"Really, right now, there is no chair of this board. That is what this meeting needs to resolve," said newly appointed trustee Carol Blackwood. "Any further debate is a waste of time."
Several attendees of the Rockingham Free Public Library trustee reorganization meeting on Tuesday questioned whether there was a quorum without her.
"You are breaking Open Meeting Law and breaking your own bylaws," said Mitchell-Love's husband, Joel Love.
Treasurer Pat Fowler was the next officer in line to call the meeting, which was scheduled as a regular board of trustees meeting.
Fowler and newly elected trustee David Gould had put together an agenda prior to the meeting, although Mitchell-Love informed trustees that she would not be there. She wrote an e-mail to attorney Stephen Ankuda requesting that he attend the meeting.
In her e-mail, Mitchell-Love expressed concern that the board intended "to take action that would not be legal without a proper quorum."
Ankuda validated the sentiments of most of the trustees, who felt Vermont state statutes would allow for the trustees to continue the meeting, as it takes only five members to have a quorum. According to an e-mail from Fowler to Mitchell-Love, six trustees sent Mitchell-Love an e-mail requesting the regular meeting be held Tuesday, as it was originally scheduled. Ankuda's concern was whether pending litigation was going to be discussed at the meeting.
At the trustee's executive session scheduled for next Tuesday, Ankuda plans to discuss legal issues.
Gould was appointed chairman. When a motion was made to appoint Ray Massucco vice chairman, he declined and Carolyn Frisa took the position instead. Doreen Aldrich was appointed recording secretary. Fowler was re-appointed treasurer.
"As the new chairman, I want to extend a welcome to all our board members and all of us who are new board members," said Gould. "I think we feel it is a great privilege to be serving the community and library in this capacity. I want to thank the general public for supporting the library in its operations and helping us get off to a good, new start."
He mentioned that he would like to see meetings kept to a two-hour maximum and the possibility of setting up a policy where the board votes on whether to continue after two hours.
"I don't know if that's a legal thing but let's work very diligently towards two hours," added Gould. "Let's just be aware of it and work towards it."
He made a pledge to get the agenda out to the library director and librarian with enough time to reply and make changes if necessary.
During public comment, some residents thanked the board members for their public service. The creation of the meeting's agenda was criticized.
"I appreciate the difficulty you had," said Serena Hickey. "I appreciate you have an agenda to work on and you're not just sitting there twiddling your thumbs."
Steve Geller, husband of the former library director Célina Houlné, who was terminated in September 2013, spoke of the four new trustees and how voters sent "a clear and unequiovcable message that they deserve a board that they can trust."
Chris Mays can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 273, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Chris on Twitter @CMaysReformer.