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Clerk Race Heats Up in Corinth

Corinth Town Meeting will be held on Tuesday, March 4, at 10 a.m. at the municipal building on Cookeville Road. Attendees will act on 19 warning articles. Australian balloting for the election of town officers will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Corinth — When polls open on March 4 in Corinth, voters will have the opportunity to elect a new town clerk.

In the only contested race on the 2014 ballot, Dawn St. Martin hopes to edge incumbent Nancy Ertle out of the job she has held for the last six years.

St. Martin said she is not seeking to unseat Ertle based on any concerns over Ertle’s job performance. Rather, her motivation to work for the town stems from a desire to find a part-time job that will keep her closer to home and allow her to spend more time with her 3-month-old twin daughters.

“Right now, I’m an administrative assistant for three departments at (Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center),” St. Martin said. “The town offices are about a half-mile from my home, which would make a tremendous difference in my daily commute.”

With work experience as an office manager and a legal assistant, St. Martin said, she believes she is qualified to assume the responsibilities of town clerk. In addition, St. Martin said, she and her fiance, Ryan Dodge, are committed to immersing themselves in the community. They have plans to build their “dream home” on their property in Corinth and look forward to enrolling their children in the public schools.

Speaking via email, Ertle said that her “experience as town clerk ... counts for a lot. There are so many different things that you have to learn to do this job and some of them are only done once a year or less. There is no training for this job, so someone new would have to come in cold turkey not knowing about anything that needs to be done.”

Ertle said the situation was markedly different when she took over the job from Chris Minery six years ago.

“The town clerk that left before me knew she was getting done, so I came in as her assistant for a month before the election to learn the job,” Ertle said. “That won’t be the case in this election if my opponent should win.”

In the current fiscal year, the town clerk was paid a flat salary of $25,500. Beginning in the new fiscal year, however, Ertle said, the Selectboard intends to change the town clerk’s compensation to an hourly wage of $12 an hour plus fees.

Selectboard Chairman Allen Locke said residents will be asked to support modest increases in the town budget. Last year’s total expenses came to $1,150,000 and are expected to rise about $4,000, Locke said.

The bulk of the increase — about $3,700 — will be accounted for by an allocation of about $117,000 for the Highway Capital Equipment Fund.

Most of those funds, Locke said, will be used to make payments for major equipment purchases the town made over the last few years.

“It looks like we went on a shopping spree,” Locke said, as he listed the two trucks, an excavator and a front-end loader that the town has acquired. “But we used to spend a huge amount of money for maintenance of (outdated) equipment.”

An issue that dominated discussion at the 2013 Town Meeting — an appropriation of $15,000 for a study of the construction of a new fire station — will not come up for debate this year.

“We hired an architectural firm to complete the study,” Locke said. “The study has been completed and they came up with a design for a fire station at an estimated cost of $1.25 million.”

But since raising funds for the construction of a fire station is a bond issue separate from the warning articles that will be taken up at Town Meeting, Locke said, voters will not determine its fate until later in the month.

An information meeting is scheduled for March 21. A bond vote is scheduled for March 31.

Corinth currently owns two fire stations, one in East Corinth and the other in Cookeville. Neither has running water, and according to fire chief Ed Pospisil, the building in Cookeville is so narrow the fire trucks can only fit through the garage doors if the side-view mirrors are folded down, and moisture problems in the East Corinth building have, on occasion, rusted out the wiring on the trucks.