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More than 100 people attended New Durham's first ever Citizens Forum on Thursday night.

Aug 6, 2015 10:29 PM

'The townspeople have been ignored:' More than 100 attend New Durham forum


NEW DURHAM - More than 100 people, sitting in their own chairs, packed a tiny room in the rear of New Durham's fire station Thursday night to discuss turmoil and turnover happening inside the town hall.

"I've lived in town 68 years, and this is the worst I’ve seen it," said resident Clayton Randall.

The forum was organized by Cecile Chase, who also serves as the town's moderator.

“Two of our selectmen have met illegally, and made decisions about things that are happening in this town," Chase told the crowd, as she pointed to a PowerPoint presentation.

The presentation showed that more than 20 town employees resigned or were terminated from their positions over the past 18 months.

“For goodness sakes, who’s going to apply for a position in this town?” Chase asked.

Chase mentioned the select board's termination of longtime Police Chief Shawn Bernier two weeks ago, but said it wasn't going to be the main topic of tonight's meeting. Instead, she wanted to discuss the dozens of issues she said preceded Bernier's firing - ongoing problems that the town needs to commit to fix.

But the only way to do that - citizens said - was to speak directly to the board of selectmen.

Only one selectman - David Swenson, who voted against firing Bernier - showed up.

“Terrible. They should be here to hear the townspeople," said resident Cleo Stickney. "The townspeople have been ignored.”

Swenson told NH1 News he felt obligated to attend.

“We’re elected to serve," he said. "We are elected to understand the wishes of the voters and the public, and I think that’s what we wanted to do tonight.”

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