RICHMOND — Council members planning to immediately replace departing Chariho School Committee member Murat Dymov were reminded at the Aug. 4 Town Council meeting that the town was required to first advertise the vacancy.
Sheila Grover, who is running for School Committee in November, was expected to join the committee early, replacing Dymov, who is moving outside the district, and council member Mark Trimmer made a motion to appoint Grover to a term ending in November 2020.
Council President Richard Nassaney said he had received a call from Dymov informing him of his move and resignation from the School Committee, and a second call from committee Chairman Ryan Callahan asking the town to appoint Grover.
“Ryan asked if we might appoint Sheila, because she’s already on the ballot to fill the position before the school session starts,” he said. “It would kind of give her a leg up so she wouldn’t have to just kind of jump in in November. I said I’d put it on the agenda and we can talk about it.”
Council member Nell Carpenter asked why Grover had not filled out an application.
Nassaney said he had contacted Grover to ask her if she would be willing to fill Dymov’s seat.
“I had asked her if she would be willing to fill the empty spot from Murat so that we would still have our voice in the town of Richmond on the School Committee, knowing that she’s on the ballot for November,” he said. “It wasn’t like it was any kind of slide-behind. It was, here’s somebody who already wants to be on the committee.”
Carpenter replied that the town advertises vacant positions.
“Precedent states that the town of Richmond, when a vacancy occurs for a School Committee seat, that it is advertised,” she said. “Not only is it when the vacancy is declared but it is advertised appropriately so that anyone who has an interest to apply for this position may do so.”
Carpenter explained that her intervention was not a reflection of how she felt about Grover joining the School Committee.
“It’s not about the person, it’s about the procedure,” she said. “This is about policy, this is about advertising appropriately so that other individuals who may be interested in this position may have such an opportunity to apply and have their day…. We cannot call people and ask them if they want the position. We must advertise this. We must do this transparently, because that’s the right thing to do.”
Nassaney responded, “We can put this out to the public, whoever would like to write themselves an application and we’ll sit and wait. I was trying what I figured was a good solution for an immediate, all-of-a-sudden resignation. I don’t have a problem with it. We’ll put it off.”
Grover, who was attending the remote meeting, said she understood the need to advertise.
“I completely understand Nell’s concern about breaking precedent,” she said. “I think this is a very legitimate concern and I think everybody should rest assured that regardless of whether or not I get appointed at any point or I just run in the fall, I’m going to be at the School Committee meetings as a person, as I always am.”
The council agreed to address the vacancy at a meeting on Aug. 17.
In other business, the council voted at a public hearing to grant an outdoor entertainment license to BOLD Media of Smithtown, N.Y., for an outdoor holiday light display at the Wawaloam Campground at 510 Gardiner Road.
Company representative Matthew Glaser told the council that the plan called for a drive-through holiday light show that would be about one mile long. Participants would be able to play synchronized holiday music on their car radios.
“It’s experienced from the car, with music that synchronizes with the lights that are broadcast over the cars,” he said. “It’s a really nice, family friendly experience. We have other similar light shows in other parts of the country and they’re very well loved and have become something that people look forward to every year. Surprisingly, there isn’t one right now in Rhode Island, anywhere.”
There will be no foot traffic at the show, which will cost $25 per car to attend. The display would begin at the end of October and continue until the end of the year.
The council voted to grant the outdoor entertainment license.