Published DateTILTON-NORTHFIELD — This year, like last, there will be a petitioned warrant article before the annual meeting of the Tilton-Northfield Fire & EMS District asking voters not to require residency as a condition of employment with the department.
A year ago the question of residency arose when the Fire Commission imposed a residency requirement on Fire Chief Brad Ober, who was a resident of New Hampton when he was appointed. The article to scuttle the residency requirement appeared on the warrant, but Katherine Dawson, a Tilton selectman, offered an amendment to instead require personnel to live within 25 minutes of the Center Street Station. The amendment failed and original article was tabled by a vote of 68 to 31.
During the debate former commissioner Kevin Waldron and Jim Wilder, both of Northfield, argued that the matter of residency should be left to the discretion of the commissioners. The commission took the vote to table the article to signal that a majority of voters believed whether or not to require the chief — and perhaps other members of the department — to reside within the district was an issue for the commissioners to decide. The commission then pressed Ober, who was unable to sell his home in New Hampton, to move to the district, finally setting a deadline of January 2, 2013 or face dismissal. Ober met the deadline by renting an apartment to establish residency in the district, where he is now a registered voter.
A second petitioned article would require the commission to video tape its meetings.
Meanwhile, Commissioner Pat Clark, the staunchest champion of the residency, is challenged by Jane Alden and Eric Pyra, both of Tilton, in his bid for re-election to a second term.