The Halifax Board of Selectmen met on Wednesday, Nov. 9 with a full board for the first time in 76 days. The abrupt resignations of Alex Meade and Ashley DiSesa in August had left just Jonathan Selig as the sole remaining selectman.
John Bruno and Naja Nessralla were elected to the Board following the special town election earlier this month. Selig began with the reorganization of the Board, nominating Bruno to serve as Chair. Bruno said that he wanted to start with his gratitude for what Selig has done the last few months. He also thanked Sandra Nolan saying that she had “provided service that is just well beyond whatever we could have expected from any town employee… she’s done a wonderful job for us.” He also thanked Selectmen Assistant Pam McSherry and Selectmen Secretary Irma Vasel. He then led the packed room in a standing ovation for Selig, Nolan, McSherry, and Vasel before nominating Selig to serve as Vice Chair.
Selig read from a prepared statement saying, “Sometimes trials and tribulations bring out the best in people and I’m happy to say that was the situation here in Halifax. While everyone leaned in to help, there were a few that went above and beyond the call of duty the past 11 weeks and I think they deserve some special recognition.” He called McSherry the “great and powerful Oz.” He also thanked Nolan saying that she took on the role of Town Administrator despite having no interest in doing so because she felt it was in the best interest of the town. He thanked Town Clerk Sue Lawless and her assistant Tara Wakefield commending them for holding both a local and State election on the same day. Selig also thanked his family saying, “I want them to know their sacrifices have not gone unnoticed.” Finally, he thanked the people of Halifax for their understanding.
The Selectmen met with Sue Lawless who has been chairing the Search Committee for a new Town Administrator. Lawless said that the Committee had selected three finalists to appear before the Selectmen for interviews. The interviews are scheduled for Friday, Nov. 18.
Police Chief Joao Chaves said that he was bringing forth to the Board two candidates for Patrol Officers. He asked that the Board consider offering a full-time position to William Feltrup with a probationary period of one year. Bruno asked Feltrup to tell them a little bit about himself. “I’ve been in law enforcement for over 10 years now, it’s mostly been with colleges, with five years as a part-timer in Whitman. In college there is a heavy stress on community policing creating an environment where the students, or the town in this case, come to you with their issues so they can be solved either by us or we can point you in a direction where someone else could help you. I believe that is the proper way to police; it’s worked for me for 10 years. It builds a strong community, I feel along with some transparency,” he explained.
The second candidate for a full-time patrolman position was Paul Campbell. Campbell, who is currently an officer at Massasoit Community College, said he oversees the Community Engagement Unit at the school. “I strongly believe that it’s essential to really reach out to your community and really get to know your community,” he explained. “One of the things that I try to do everyday is meet new people and start a conversation about whatever the person wants to talk about… I feel like 75 to 80 percent of policing is relationships,” he continued. The Board voted to hire both officers starting at a Step 3 pay grade.
Bruno read a letter from Dennis Carman who ran for Selectman in the special town election. It said, “To my neighbors and all of my neighbors in this beloved town of Halifax, though I am disappointed that I was not successful in my run for Selectmen in yesterday’s special election, I am heartened that 3,131 people, 57.65 percent of our registered voters, took time out to vote. I congratulate Naja Nessralla and John Bruno for their impressive wins to become Selectmen.” He thanked all the other candidates as well for running positive campaigns. He thanked Selig for his service during unprecedented times and thanked all town employees and volunteers in the town. “Make no mistake, we have significant problems in our cherished hometown; having any doubt of that means you may need to become more engaged in what is happening locally, but please do not add to these problems. Rather, get engaged and become part of the solution. We’re not always going to agree but we must always respect each other and connect with each other as caring human beings who are dedicated to compromise and progress,” Carman’s letter continued.
The Board also went through several recycling abatements as well as scheduling on-site inspections for a number of liquor licenses including Country Club of Halifax, Happy Dragon, Grille 58, Harmony Two Liquors, and others.
Before adjourning, Bruno suggested that the Board consider having regular office hours perhaps monthly. Bruno explained that he believes that residents sometimes attend Selectmen’s meetings in the hopes of discussing a particular issue, but that issue isn’t on the agenda and therefore doesn’t get discussed. He said that the office hours would be intended to allow residents a chance to talk with a Selectman about whatever they feel might be a pressing matter.