BF/Rockingham boards fire municipal manager Cullenen

Wednesday April 17, 2013

BELLOWS FALLS -- Municipal Manager Timothy Cullenen was terminated from his position Tuesday following a vote of no confidence by the Rockingham Selectboard and the Bellows Falls Village Board of Trustees.

A joint board meeting was held a few minutes after a regular meeting of the Selectboard adjourned in the Rockingham Town Hall Lower Theatre. The joint meeting went into executive session for the annual evaluation of the manager and both boards took a vote of no confidence once open session resumed. Selectboard Chairman Tom MacPhee said the termination was the result of the vote.

The motion passed 4-0 on the Selectboard (member Susan Hammond abstained) and was approved unanimously 5-0 by the trustees. MacPhee and Village President Roger Riccio then went up to Cullenen's second-floor office to break the news to him. Cullenen, visibly upset, was seen bringing boxes of his belongings to his vehicle.

He told reporters he would be in contact with his attorney to fight his dismissal.

"It was an unjust termination and actions will be taken," he told the press.

In March, the trustees moved to attach a letter to Cullenen's permanent file.

Cullenen had already been in hot water with the boards following comments he made to a Bellows Falls citizen during a Nov. 13 joint board meeting. He soon after that took a leave of absence until Dec. 3.

Village resident Jim Mitchell asked why people should have to pay for overnight parking when downtown parking issues are being ignored. When Riccio told Mitchell the permits mentioned are for overnight parking, Mitchell said he knew for a fact that Cullenen was getting license plate numbers phoned to him every day and merchants in The Square were complaining about parking violations downtown.

Mitchell had tried to speak to Cullenen directly but Riccio said the proper thing to do is address the village president.

Cullenen then made a comment that some trustees and audience members considered disrespectful.

"Roger, would you explain to Mr. Mitchell - use very small words and talk really slowly - that the parking permits are for overnight parking in municipal lots, which is completely separate from downtown parking during business hours," he said.

Trustee Deborah Wright immediately objected to the statement, calling it "extremely rude."

MacPhee and Riccio did not provide further comment Tuesday.

Domenic Poli can be reached at; or 802-254-2311, ext. 277. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoli_reformer.


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