Town Council faces life after Leggett

Mayor John Sullivan opened Monday night’s Washington Town Council meeting by recognizing an empty chair at the board table, since former mayor and council member Eugene Leggett II passed away June 8, at age 86.

“It doesn’t feel quite right to be bringing this up now, since Gene hasn’t yet been laid to rest,” Sullivan said, noting that the longtime Washington fixture’s funeral service would take place the following morning at Trinity Episcopal Church, “but this seat needs to be filled.”

In accordance with town ordinances, the council has 44 days from the day of Leggett’s death to appoint a successor, Town Attorney John Bennett said Monday. (Sullivan was appointed to the Council in the same fashion.) Though the length of that term will depend on the ruling of a circuit court judge, the council agreed unanimously that they would prefer for that term to run until the  May 2014 general election.

Sullivan said that Leggett was truly “a giant in this small town,” and that his impact on the town of Washington was as large as his personality.

“For a person to spend what you might describe as the later years of his life, when many people would instead choose to hang up their boots and sit quietly and read books by fireside, Gene involved himself in a lot of complicated issues with a lot of conflict surrounding them,” Sullivan said solemnly, noting the approval of the wastewater treatment plant, in which Leggett was instrumental in persuading opposing parties to find common ground for the greater good of the community. “It was remarkable how he was able to rope people into working together, and he was just a remarkable man.”

Applications from those interested in filling Leggett’s council seat are due by Friday, July 6, leaving 10 days for review before the next town council meeting July 16. Bennett said that applications should include a written portion containing a statement of vision, why the applicant wants to become a member of the Washington Town Council, and must be accompanied by a nomination from a council member. The seat will be open for the next general election May 2014, unless a circuit judge decides otherwise. And if the council cannot fill the position within the 44 days, Bennett said, a judge will make the appointment.

Also at Monday’s meeting

The fiscal year 2013 town budget was approved unanimously, and without significant comment.

A joint meeting between the council and members of the town planning commission to discuss the most recent draft of the 2012 Comprehensive Plan will take place at the next scheduled Town Council meeting July 16.

The council approved spending up to $1,000 for inspecting the town reservoir, an action required by the county health department. Town clerk Laura Dodd will solicit letters of recommendation to help decide which of two contractors will be awarded the bid for inspecting the reservoir, a job completed through the use of robotics (to avoid having to drain the tank to inspect it).

Council treasurer Jerry Goebel announced that the painting of the Washington Town Hall has been completed.