By Katina Caraganis
ASHBY -- Selectmen voted to temporarily appoint Police Sgt. Fred Alden to lieutenant Wednesday night, but opted to not make the appointment permanent until the third member of the board is elected at the end of June.
There is a vacancy on the board after Dan Meunier submitted a letter of resignation in April because his family was moving out of town. But because of the timing of the resignation letter, the open position could not be placed on the annual town election ballot last week.
Instead, the position will be filled during the election June 25 that will also pick a replacement for the state Senate seat.
Police Chief Edward Drew requested the appointment at Wednesday night's meeting, saying the position and its salary had been approved during Town Meeting last Saturday.
"He has done exemplary work as our sergeant. He's the type of person who takes on a lot more responsibility, especially since being promoted two years ago to his current position," he said of Alden. "He doesn't shy away from taking on extra work as needed."
Steve Ingerson, who was elected to the board last week, filling the seat left vacant by Peter McMurray, said he was hesitant to approve the permanent position because he wasn't aware the appointment was an agenda item.
Ingerson said he hadn't received his copy of the meeting agenda until Wednesday afternoon, and wanted to make sure he did his due diligence in researching Alden and the appointment more before making a decision.
"I need more time in office before I can approve this. I need to answer some questions on my own. We may have to wait until we have a full board before we do anything more. I didn't know anything about this," he said.
Drew asked if he could answer any of the questions Ingerson had, and Ingerson said he couldn't, and that some of the questions may be better answered in private.
"I just want ample time to make a decision. I was blindsided by this agenda. I need to feel comfortable with the decision I'm making," he said.
Resident Lillian Whitney suggested making the appointment provisionally until the next election and the three-member board could meet.
Drew expressed disappointment with the decision, saying the board should respect the wish of the Town Meeting vote.
"Town Meeting approved this. The voice of the people approved this. The board has spoken, I understand that. This decision has come out of left field," he said during the meeting.
Drew declined to elaborate on any of his comments after the meeting Wednesday.
Alden was at the meeting Wednesday night, along with two other full-time officers, a reserve officer, a dispatcher, his wife and other family members.
Kathy Bezanson, the dispatch manager in Ashby, was clearly upset by the decision after the meeting, saying she felt Ingerson should have been more prepared for the meeting.
"The town unanimously supported this at Town Meeting. He was there Saturday. He had from Saturday until now to do his research and make a decision on this," she said.
Follow Katina Caraganis on Twitter @kcaraganis.