LIMESTONE — Two days after unanimously voting to fire the new town manager after only 10 weeks in office, members of the Select Board announced a special meeting for Wednesday, Dec. 13, to address resident concerns and to seek input from the community moving forward with a replacement.

In a press release issued Dec. 8, the board members wrote, “We wish to convey to the citizens that the entire board acted within their capacity and felt that it was in the best interests of the Town of Limestone to relieve Matthew Pineo of his duties as town manager effective Dec. 6, 2017 at 9 p.m.”

They later stated that there had been no contract yet established between the town and Pineo that obligated them to keep him in his position.

The special meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Wednesday in the board room of the Limestone Town Office at 93 Main Street. The meeting will be open to the public and serve as a way for the board to address the concerns of Limestone residents and receive their input regarding a new interim town manager and future candidates for the official position of town manager.

Tensions had been high between the Select Board and Pineo throughout much of his brief term, after he implemented many changes that included reconfiguring offices within Limestone’s municipal building, appointing two deputy treasurers and altering the Select Board meetings so that Town Clerk Vicki Page sat at a separate desk taking the meeting minutes while Pineo sat among the board members.

During the Dec. 6 Select Board meeting, several Limestone residents stood up in defense of Pineo, praising his desire to bring more businesses to the town and begin greater efforts toward economic development.

Julie and Brian Weston, who own Manaus Books and Coffeeshop on Main Street, were among those defending Pineo. Julie Weston told the Aroostook Republican on Friday that she was very surprised and disappointed to hear about the board’s decision to fire Pineo.

The board’s decision was made after the select people went into executive decision for about an hour and about two dozen residents had left the meeting.

“I hope that the Select Board will do a more comprehensive search for a new manager and get the public involved,” Julie Weston said Friday. During the Dec. 6 meeting, she had accused board members of making hiring decisions behind closed doors during executive sessions, which Board Chairman Steve Beaulieu denied.

“It’s clear that they need more input from the public. I feel that Limestone is on the verge of turning things around and hope that we find someone that can help us do that,” she said Friday.

Brian Weston also was vocal at the prior Select Board meeting and expressed anger at the selectmen for not giving Pineo the opportunity to enact positive changes for Limestone. He encourages all Limestone residents to attend future Select Board meetings and let their voices be heard.

“I don’t look at this issue as being resolved at all,” Brain Weston said Friday, referring to tensions between the Select Board and the public. “I definitely plan to get more involved with what’s going on and attend these meetings. Nobody usually attends the meetings because they feel like their voices don’t count. I think more people are going to start showing up now.”

In their release on Friday, Select Board members stated that they cannot disclose what they discussed during last Wednesday’s hourlong executive session because “personnel matters are not a matter of public record and therefore, no further explanation can or will be provided to the general public” in regards to Pineo’s firing.

No agenda has been published for the Dec. 13 meeting, but “the select people will consider candidates for an interim town manager, as well as a future hire should a suitable candidate be identified prior to that meeting.”

Select person Melissa Devoe told the Aroostook Republican on Dec. 9 that the board will discuss at the meeting how the town will proceed with the process of hiring an interim and future town manager and that they encourage the public to attend.

“Personally, I hope that we can move forward and work together and come up with solutions that the town of Limestone needs for its future,” Devoe said.

Efforts by the Aroostook Republican to reach Pineo for comment have been unsuccessful.

Limestone Economic Development Coordinator Dennis McCartney said Saturday that he has had several conversations with many of the selectmen and that they have a strong desire for more positive changes in the town. He stands by their statements that they have not used executive session to violate the law and that their decision to fire Pineo was in the town’s best interests.

“They really want to be as open with the public as possible and get their input,” McCartney said. “If there’s any information they want people to know it’s that they want to move forward and they want the public to be involved.”

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