Westport highway surveyor question — elected or appointed — faces Feb. 7 test


The Board of Selectmen voted their unanimous approval last week of wording for a question headed to voters  Feb. 7 to determine whether the job of highway surveyor will continue to be elected to will become appointed by the selectmen.

The question comes in the wake of continued turmoil in the Highway Department, most recently the arrest of Highway Surveyor Jack Sisson and mechanic John Kennedy on charges that include larceny of town equipment. Mr. Sisson has been ordered too stay away from the Highway Department until his case is decided by a court. He has been replaced temporarily by the department foreman and the town administrator.

The selectmen had also previously voted to change in the position's name from highway surveyor to highway surveyor/engineer, a change reflecting their wish to enhance the job qualifications.

The warrant will be the only one on the agenda at the special town meeting that is scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 7, at 7 p.m.

If it receives a super majority (two-thirds) of the vote at the Feb. 7 meeting, the question will then proceed to next April's town election.

If the warrant is approved by voters then, Mr. Sisson would be allowed to finish out or vacate his term of office and the next surveyor/engineer would be appointed by the Selectmen.

Warrant Article 1 awaiting voters reads:

"To see if the Town will vote pursuant to G.L. c.41, §1B to make the elected position of Highway Surveyor an appointed position, such appointment to be made by the Board of Selectmen for a term not to exceed three years; provided, however, that before such change may take effect, it must be approved by the voters of the Town at the 2013 Annual Town Election; and provided further that should the voters approve the change at that election, the incumbent elected Highway Surveyor shall continue in said office until the expiration of his elected term or sooner vacating of office; and/or take any other action relative hereto."


Healey contract extended

In other action last week, the Selectmen voted, again unanimously, to continue the contract of part-time Town Administrator Jack Healey.

After a closed section, Selectmen announced that Mr. Healey's contract has been extended to June 30 and that he will continue to work two days a week.





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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.