CAVENDISH, Vt. – The Cavendish Select Board meeting was about to wrap up Monday, May 13, when Select Board member Sandra Russo made a final statement in support of fellow board member Stuart Lindberg who had come under “personal attack” by audience member Amy Perry at the last Select Board meeting April 8, calling for his removal from the board.
Perry, who is a volunteer with the Proctorsville Fire Department, criticized the objectivity of Lindberg, who is a volunteer at the Cavendish Fire Department, in the wake of increasing tension between the two departments as the subject of a fire district merger has come to the forefront in Cavendish town politics.
Russo recapped the three key issues that Perry brought forward during her speech about Lindberg citing: conflict of interest by serving on the Cavendish Prudential Committee; angry outbursts directed at or about Proctorsville Fire Department members; and Lindberg having “hidden personal agendas.”
Russo began by stating that Lindberg had, the week prior, resigned from the Cavendish Prudential Committee, eliminating that as an issue.
The next issue Russo addressed was Perry’s criticism of Lindberg for having a heated phone conversation with Cavendish Fire Chief Shane Turco after Turco resigned from the Cavendish Fire Department and immediately joining the Proctorsville Fire Department. Russo referenced an article written by The Vermont Journal where, during an interview with Turco, he admitted that although he had attended a Cavendish District 2 meeting the night before no announcement of resignation was mentioned to Lindberg, who was also at the meeting. Instead, Lindberg had only found out about the resignation when a reporter had called him asking for confirmation of the Turco resignation the next morning, essentially blindsiding Lindberg with the news. Russo agreed that the resulting conversation between the two men was likely heated particularly considering the circumstances. Russo added, “In this situation I feel that both men could have made some better choices that day.”
Russo addressed another Perry statement concerning a training session led by Pine Point Fire Training taught by Fire Chief Roger Audette in Charlestown, N.H. with Perry saying that Lindberg acted rudely and inappropriately over certain slides in the presentation. Russo emailed Chief Audette and sent Perry’s statements to him. Chief Audette responded to Russo that he didn’t know where these comments came from and that Lindberg was “professional and courteous and not out of line.” He further went on to say that he “appreciated Stu correcting him about the information in the slide.”
Russo then addressed Perry’s statement concerning Lindberg’s actions while attending Southern Vermont Regional Fire School in Rutland. According to Perry, Lindberg had slandered Proctorsville Fire Department to So. Londonderry Fire Chief Jeff Duda, swearing at Duda and disrupting the event so much so that Duda had to speak to an organizer. Again, Russo sent Perry’s comments, this time to Chief Duda. According to Russo, he replied immediately saying that “did not know where these comments came from.” Chief Duda, Stu, and another officer were having a private lunch. Chief Duda asked how things were going between the two fire departments because he had read some things in the paper. He said that Stu was forthcoming about his opinion and yes it included some negative comments but that “Stu was always very respectful, calm and there was never any swearing.” Chief Duda also confirmed that he never spoke to an organizer.
Russo then addressed a comment made by Perry that accused Lindberg of harassing a dump employee who is member of the Proctorsville Fire Department. According to Russo, there was an incident that happened last fall between the two men. Russo explained that she received information in confidence that “would really put a different light on this incident, but because it was in confidence, I’m not going further.”
As for Perry’s concern of Lindberg having hidden personal agendas, Russo offered, “I don’t think anyone has to worry about Stu’s hidden personal agendas. There is nothing hidden about Stu. He tells you how he feels about everything.”
Russo finished by saying, “As far as I’m concerned, this issue with Stu being on the Select Board is closed.” A few audience members applauded after her statement was concluded and the meeting was officially adjourned.
Of note, the town Memorial Day ceremonies will take place Thursday, May 30. A parade will take place starting at the old town garage, traveling down to the bridge and then about face and onto the cemetery with a presentation happening at Cavendish Town Elementary School likely at 10:30 a.m. although the time is yet to be finalized.