Westport voters to decide future of highway job — elected or appointed

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Westport voters could decide in April whether to make the highway surveyor an appointed job rather than the elected post it has long been. The Board of Selectmen voted unanimously Monday to make the change if voters approve. To accomplish that, they also called for a special town meeting to be held on Thursday, Feb 7. At that meeting, voters will be asked whether they wish to place the question on the April 9 town election ballot. The change would not have an immediate impact on incumbent highway surveyor Harold "Jack" Sisson since it would not take effect until 2014. But Selectmen said they needed to address the issue this year so that the question would be answered before the next time the highway surveyor post is up for election. Voters will also be asked to approve a name change for the job — to "Highway Surveor/Town Engineer" in order to reflect enhanced requirements for the post. At this point, Mr. Sisson is the town's highway surveyor in name only. He was ordered to stay out of the own highway garage after being charged with receiving stolen property and other offenses in connection with the discovery of town-owned equipment at the home of the department's chief mechanic, John Kennedy. In his absence,m the department is being run by foreman Chris Gonsalves in partnership with Town Administraor John "Jack" Healey.

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