Keene town supervisor's use of town fuel under question

Community members and board members clash over Ferebee’s use of town fuel

KEENE — Town board members have decided not to pursue criminal charges against Keene Supervisor William Ferebee for pumping town fuel into his personal vehicle in early January.

After reviewing the situation at a Feb. 14 meeting, board members concluded that Ferebee’s actions did not constitute an abuse of power, noting it was a one-time incident prompted by the supervisor running out of gas.

“We all agreed as a board that the incident should be reported to New York state audit and control and that (Ferebee) should send a letter to them and reimburse the town for the gas that was taken in the emergency situation,” said town board member Robert Biesemeyer.

The situation unfolded during the afternoon of Tuesday, Jan. 10 as Ferebee was traveling on Route 73 enroute to the Keene town office on Hurricane Road. Just before he got there, his vehicle began stalling out because of a lack of fuel. He said he was able to get the vehicle to the lower town sand pit, where the town fuel tanks are located.

He used a key supplied to him by the town to unlock the gas pump and fueled his vehicle with 14 gallons of gas. He then sent a text message to town Highway Superintendent Bruce Reed alerting him of the situation.

During a town board meeting that night, Ferebee shared what had happened with his town board in executive session, and was told to reimburse the town for the gas, which he did the next day, paying town clerk Ellen Estes $2.98 per gallon — the cost of gasoline paid by the town on state contract — for a total of $43.50.

A week later, Ferebee wrote an e-mail to Patrick Bowen, an examiner with the state comptroller’s office, asking for advice about how he should handle the incident.

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