ATHOL The controversy-laden competition for the post of Thurman Town Supervisor has generated a great deal of regional interest this year, and an upcoming face-off between the two candidates — present town chief Evelyn Wood and former supervisor John Haskell — is expected to draw a considerable crowd.
The area chapter of the League of Women Voters is holding a Meet the Candidates Night at 7 p.m. Tuesday Oct. 22 in the Thurman Town Hall. The capacity of the town hall is 180 people, so those planning to attend should arrive early.
Last year, Thurman Town Supervisor Evelyn Wood had received a considerable amount of praise for her handling various issues facing the town, including straightening out town finances and investing many hours in the effort to recover from the devastating, historic 2012 floods that washed out many roads and bridges in town, and to obtain grant funding to rebuild.
But she sparked considerable opposition in late 2012 when she and the town board voted against funding the local ambulance squad after the independent agency’s financial needs increased substantially, and regional emergency officials questioned the local agency’s financial viability. Wood and the town board also voted to discontinue municipal trash collection, based on the concept that local landowners who generated no trash were paying toward other residents’ trash collection and disposal — and that funding it would cause local tax rates to soar.
Retaining both the trash collection and funding for the ambulance corps would have prompted a tax increase of as much as 50 percent.
Many citizens, however, lobbied for taxpayer support of the squad, based on how much volunteer labor and local donations went into building the squad building and supporting the group in the past.
The groundswell of public opposition to these actions prompted Haskell to run again, based on his pledge to renew support for the emergency squad and reinstate trash collection.