After threat, Grafton S.B. chair to resign over safety concern

By Cynthia Prairie
©2016 Telegraph Publishing LLC

ON THE COVER: Gus Plummer is flanked by fellow board members Cynthia Gibbs, left, and Alan Sands.

Through a quavering voice, Grafton Select Board chair Gus Plummer told an audience of 60 Monday night that he had received a note that so upset him – especially when it came to the safety of his family – that he would be resigning from the board.

This note was put in the Grafton Town Hall drop box.

This note was put in the Grafton Town Hall drop box. Photo provided.

Plummer told the crowd that Town Treasurer Kim Record had found “a little threatening note in the drop box” at Town Hall just that morning. It was directed to “Selectman Gus Plumber” and ended in “warning #1.” The brief message said: “stop smoking pot      your dealer is Gary Hooke.” Plummer, a lifelong Grafton resident, said he indeed spends a lot of time with Hooke because they are cousins.

He said it had consumed his thoughts all daylong and made it impossible to concentrate on his Select Board duties for that evening.

Plummer, who has been chair since March and a select board member for five years, said, “This is with an extremely heavy heart that I resign as Select Board chair and member effective immediately.”

Select Board chair tells the audience about the note, holding back emotion. Photos by Cynthia Prairie.

Select Board chair tells the audience about the note, holding back emotion. Photo by Cynthia Prairie.

He held back emotion as he spoke of his family, his children, saying, “I think of the kids. It’s not something I could risk. … It’s not worth it to stay on having a threat made. For all of you who have supported me, thank you very much. I didn’t know a lot of you before. I know lot of you now.”

Several in the audience tried to comfort Plummer if not dissuade him from resigning.

John Turner, a former Grafton Elementary School principal, stood to say that he too had experienced threats  “more than once. These people do go away and these situations do fade away. You are an asset to Grafton. If you give in, they win and the town loses.”

Suzanne Welch said, “The behavior of one person is deplorable. … Thank you for your leadership. You have been fair, courageous and even-handed,”

Select Board member Ron Pilette turned to Plummer and said, “Knowing we have differences, you are someone I absolutely trust.”

Before stepping away from his colleagues and leaving the meeting, held in the gym of Grafton Elementary, Plummer said he would be sending in a formal letter of resignation in the next couple of days. As he departed, the crowd gave him a standing ovation.

“These people do go away and these situations do fade away. You are an asset to Grafton. If you give in, they win and the town loses.”

John Turner
Former principal
Grafton Elementary

Record said Tuesday Plummer’s resignation will take effect when and if he hands in a formal letter. If he does so, the board could appoint a replacement that would serve until the next election in March 2017, which is when Plummer’s current term ends. Citizens could also petition for a special election. As of 2 p.m. today — Tuesday — he had not come in with a letter.

But a number of people, including Board member Skip Lisle, said they hope Plummer reconsiders. In the meantime, Vermont State Police say they’ve opened an investigation into the letter.

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About the Author: Cynthia Prairie has been a newspaper editor more than 30 years. She has worked at such publications as the Raleigh Times, the Baltimore News American, the Buffalo Courier Express, the Chicago Sun-Times and the Patuxent Publishing chain of community newspapers in Maryland. She and her family moved to Chester, Vermont in 2004.

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