By Patrick Cronin
Hampton Union, Tuesday, April 3, 2012
[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]
HAMPTON -- Fred Welch will be staying on as town manager for at least another three years. The Board of Selectmen voted 3-1 Monday to offer him a new long-term contract, ending months of uncertainty and controversy on who would be in the top position come June.
Welch is expected to accept the contract offer.
Selectman Rick Griffin and newly elected Selectmen Phil Bean and Ben Moore voted in support of the new contract, which stretches Welch's tenure until June 30, 2015. Selectman Mike Pierce voted against the contract, and Selectman Richard Nichols abstained from the vote.
Moore, who made the motion offer to the contract, said he reviewed all nonpublic documents, including Welch's recent employment evaluation, that led to some members on the previous board to lean toward parting ways with Welch.
While Moore said he can't disclose what is in the documents, he said he can assure residents that there is no "unethical behavior or any illegal activity."
Bean said he also reviewed the documents and was in full support of offering Welch a new contract.
Pierce attempted to stall the vote to go into a nonpublic session, saying the two new selectmen, Moore and Bean, did not "know all the facts." While Nichols seconded that motion, it failed in a vote.
Support for Welch had been in doubt since September, as selectmen had been divided on his future with the town.
The board eventually gave Welch a three-month contract extension to keep him on until June, a move that essentially delayed a final decision until after the March 13 town election.
The short-term contract extension came after selectmen were deadlocked in early September on whether to offer Welch a new contract, and a public petition to keep Welch on the job.
Voting against for Welch in the deadlock were Pierce and Jerry Znoj, who lost his bid for re-election. Griffin and Bill Lally, who did not run for re-election, voted in favor of keeping Welch onboard.
In September, Nichols abstained from the town manager vote, stating at the time he was interested in the town manager's job.