BY JENNIFER SOLIS
---- — WEST NEWBURY — Less than a week after she received a statewide award for excellence in telecommunication, lead dispatcher Lee Delp has resigned her post to work at the Essex Regional Emergency Communication Center in Middleton.
In a letter addressed to police Chief Lisa Holmes dated June 12, Delp resigned her full-time position, effective June 20. But she asked to be appointed as a part-time dispatcher in West Newbury to “help out when available.”
Delp was named the Jeff Grossman Telecommunicator of the Year at a ceremony on June 13.
However, at a meeting on Monday, selectmen removed her name entirely from a list of reappointments for both full and part-time dispatchers. Prior to the vote, Selectman Glenn Kemper emphasized to his colleagues that doing so would prohibit Delp from working as a town dispatcher in any capacity effective immediately. Ultimately, the board appeared comfortable with its action — the vote was unanimous.
Delp indicated that she’d also like to continue serving as West Newbury’s Emergency Management director, but apparently selectmen have other plans for that position as well. They will ask former EMA director Scott Berkenbush if he would be willing to return, or at least serve in an interim capacity until a new person is hired.
Because of the nature of her new position, selectmen doubted whether Delp would be available to lead West Newbury in the event that an emergency that impacted the region hit locally. “If there’s a real emergency where we’d need her, I would assume she would have to be (in Middleton),” Kemper said.
When reached in Florida where she is teaching a class, the 15-year veteran dispatcher seemed surprised to learn of the selectmen’s votes and the apparent miscommunication about her desire to continue playing a role in West Newbury’s Public Safety Department.
“Well, I guess I need to make a phone call,” she commented via email after hearing what happened at the meeting Monday night.
Initially, selectmen planned to make deputy EMA directors Michael Dwyer and Ben Jennell the interim directors until the board could speak with Berkenbush. However, when Public Works director Gary Bill informed them that Delp was currently working on a Federal Emergency Management Agency reimbursement for the town that likely wouldn’t be completed until the end of the month, the board agreed to keep her as EMA director in an interim capacity until July 1. Kemper stressed that it was critical that the transition of authority from Delp to someone else be as smooth as possible.
The board held off on taking any action on appointing an Emergency Response coordinator, a post Delp currently holds; and they took no further action on the appointment of “Lee Ann Delp, EMA” as a special police officer, a post they filled earlier this month, prior to her resignation.
Delp called her decision to leave the dispatch department a hard one. “I have been dedicated to the town of West Newbury in one fashion or the other since 1986. I will miss interaction with the townspeople on a daily basis.” She said income, advancement and opportunity for future growth with Essex RECC were factors in her decision.
Delp, who strongly opposed a plan to regionalize dispatch services in West Newbury a few years ago, declined to substantially weigh in on the possibility of the town joining the regional center in Middleton now that she has taken a job there.
Noting that 911 calls are only a small portion of what a dispatcher in West Newbury does, Delp said any move to regionalize services would require “an in-depth plan for all of the other duties beyond the 911 calls.”
“There are positives and negatives to either a single person center or a regional center and I would leave the decision of which is better for the townspeople up to the townspeople and the town’s leaders,” she said.
Selectmen also made two appointments to the Finance Committee for three-year terms: Frank Sista is a senior implementation and training consultant for TKT Software Services with an extensive managerial and technical background in the areas of application architecture, applications development and systems implementations; and retiree Carroll Winch, a former corporate CEO with 40 years experience in financial services industry. A one-year and a two-year position on the finance board remain vacant.
Brad Dore was made an ex-officio of the Harbor Committee because town bylaws dictates that only registered voters can serve as regular members and Dore is a resident of Canada. Kemper will seek a bylaw change at Town Meeting this fall to give residents who are not registered voters a chance to serve.
Instead of appointing Principal Jack O’Mara as the alternate to the Page School Building Committee, selectmen simply appointed “the Page School principal.” Kemper said he has been hearing that it’s possible that O’Mara may be retiring at some point next year. Although he has not confirmed the rumor, he felt it would be cleaner to just appoint the position and not a specific person.
When contacted about the validity of rumor on Tuesday, Pentucket Superintendent Jeff Mulqueen would neither confirm nor deny it. He suggested speaking directly to O’Mara, saying, “I am happy to make comments after that.” O’Mara chose not to comment at this time.