Major turnover among Bennington staff

  • Bennington Town Hall, April 27, 2021 Staff Photo by Abbe Hamilton—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 4/28/2021 4:31:53 PM

Bennington is facing significant municipal staff turnover after the Select Board opted to replace Town Administrator Kristie LaPlante and Road Agent Hazen Fisk earlier this month. Additionally, Deputy Town Administrator and Tax Collector Dee French is resigning as of May 31, and the Select Board is also exploring a merged police department after Police Chief Bret Sullivan announced his intent to retire.

“The town is moving in a new direction,” Select Board Chair James Cleary said of the two dismissals when asked about them at a Select Board meeting Tuesday night. He did not provide further reason for either dismissal. The town has already replaced the Road Agent by promoting an existing Highway Department employee, Cleary said, and promoted Administrative Assistant Deb Davidson to interim Town Administrator. A new Assistant Town Administrator starts in June, he said. “Things are moving along very well,” he said. Both Town Administrator and Road Agent positions will keep the same hours as before, he said. The dismissals were not financially motivated, he said. The Ledger-Transcript was unable to reach Cleary to clarify whether French’s position would be filled.

LaPlante became Town Administrator in 2018 after working full-time for Bennington since 2005, and part-time since 2001. French, who is LaPlante’s mother, served as Town Administrator before the Select Board promoted LaPlante. Davidson has been working for the town for two years and had been in training to become the Deputy Town Administrator, French confirmed on Wednesday.

“I am bewildered by my dismissal. Unfortunately there were no Selectmens meetings where any change in direction or restructuring were discussed. I thoroughly enjoyed working for the Town of Bennington and I will miss working with co-workers, volunteers, and residents,” LaPlante said in a statement on Wednesday. She was notified of the decision on April 8, she said. Fisk had served as Road Agent for a year and a half, Cleary said.

Bennington plans to meet with the Hancock Select Board next week to explore the potential for a merged police department. It isn’t something the Board would be discussing except that Sullivan intends to retire, Cleary said. Merging departments in order to save money is a concept Cleary’s been mulling for at least 25 years, he said. “We can’t seem to get across to ConVal the crisis this whole community’s in right now when it comes to taxation,” he said. “The hardest part of this job is dealing with people who can't pay their taxes,” he said.

Sullivan did not respond to a request for comment by  press time.


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