Interim highway head named

Upcoming vote becomes issue in appointment discussion

— In a split vote, the Bethlehem Town Board has named Commissioner of Public Works Erik Deyoe interim highway superintendent through the end of the year.

Councilwoman Joann Dawson cast the dissenting vote on Wednesday, April 10, saying she felt the decision should be made after an April 30 special public referendum on eliminating the top highway job. Dawson said the outcome of the vote could potentially lead the board to appoint someone other than Deyoe to take over the temporary position.

Dawson said by temporarily appointing Deyoe to the position, it may look to some residents like the board is going forward with the proposal to merge the highway superintendent job with the DPW commissioner’s duties. She felt it made more sense to wait until after the April 30 vote, a point Supervisor John Clarkson disagreed on.

“I think our message to the public needs to be that they have the right to choose whether or not this new law takes effect, and what we are doing in the interim is responsibly administering this function, regardless of the outcome,” said Supervisor John Clarkson.

Clarkson said even if the board had previously opted not to go forward with a special referendum, an interim highway superintendent would still need to be named after Highway Superintendent Gregg Sagendorph’s retirement at the end of April. He said the public had already been notified of the board’s intent to appoint Deyoe. Councilman Jeffrey Kuhn said he was under the impression board members had already agreed in internal communications and at board meetings that he is the right person for the job.

Deyoe has also been working for several months with Sagendorph to learn highway procedures and make sure the transition is smooth, said Clarkson.

Sagendorph’s retirement announcement prompted Clarkson to propose abolishing the elected position and placing the duties of the office with the commissioner of public works. A civil servant would then be hired to help manage the highway department under the public works umbrella. The change is subject to public approval.

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