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Resident complains about town clerk during meeting

October 15, 2003|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

andrews@herald-mail.com

A resident urged town officials on Monday to bring the former clerk/treasurer back to replace the current one.

At a town council meeting, Regina Yohe read aloud a blistering letter accusing Clerk/Treasurer Bonnie J. Errico of being distracted, unfriendly and inaccessible.

Yohe also said, not from her letter, that there have been problems with water and electric bills under Errico, such as residents getting billed twice in one month.

Yohe - who ran for a council seat in March and lost - later said she is not certain of all the alleged problems.

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"I'm only going by hearsay and what people tell me," she said.

Yohe said residents who are afraid to speak out about issues come to her to be a spokeswoman.

At the end of the evening, Errico said she was advised not to comment, but she spoke out anyway.

"I'm not sure she knows what she's talking about," she said of Yohe.

Errico said the only complaints about water and electric bills come from people who think they're too high or whose service was turned off for nonpayment.

There were a few mistakes, but they were corrected, she said. She doesn't know of a resident getting billed twice in a month.

After working for the Town of Williamsport 21 years, Donna K. Spickler left her job as clerk/treasurer in June 2002 to become Hagerstown's city clerk.

Williamsport hired Steven K. Smith to replace her, but he left after a month.

"It just didn't work out," Mayor John W. Slayman said during Monday's meeting.

Errico was hired next and took over at the August 2002 council meeting.

None of the town council members or Slayman defended Errico Monday after Yohe's attack.

Councilman Monty R. Jones pointed out that she started with no experience.

"I saw her go through a horrific time with other employees who attacked her," he said. "Maybe she had it coming. I don't know."

"Nobody's ever going to replace Donna," Jones added. "Donna had a heart for the town of Williamsport."

Slayman tried to cut off the discussion by saying it should take place in executive session.

"You shouldn't even put this in the paper," Councilman Earle R. Pereschuk Sr. told a Herald-Mail reporter covering the meeting.

Slayman and the council later went into executive session. However, they talked about a real estate deal - a topic that neither was announced nor on the agenda, a council member said. The complaint against Errico was not discussed.

After the executive session, Slayman declined to comment.

On Tuesday, Councilman James G. McCleaf II said he didn't think the discussion should have gone as far as it did in public. He expects it to be the topic of an executive session next month.

McCleaf agreed that Errico had a tough time following Spickler, who seemed to know everyone. Aside from that, he wasn't sure what to think.

"Everything I've asked of her, she's done," he said. But he's not at Town Hall every day to see her work, he added.

Yohe also accused Errico of holing up, away from the public, possibly to do work for other jobs.

But Errico said she works on town business while two clerks help the public.

"They are mainly customer service," she said.

Errico acknowledged she has two other occasional part-time jobs, but said they don't interfere with her town duties.

One night a week, she teaches American history at Maryland Correctional Training Center, south of Hagerstown. Last Christmas season, she worked part time at Hecht's.

Errico said she is required to be at Town Hall from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. each weekday, but she usually is there by 8 a.m. and works through lunch.

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