There were about 185 voters at Town Meeting. A tax rate of $7. 92 was approved, the town manager system was retained, the Australian ballot lost by one vote, and the meeting adjourned around 4:30!!
The meeting started right off with a bang with the election of Moderator. Ogden having been nominated for the office, turned the meeting over to Town Clerk Rogers. There were no further nominations. Woodruff, however asked for the floor and set out to show that Ogden was a poor man for the job. To prove his point he recited a list of incidents from Ogdens school days, such as the fact that he flunked out of college, only won second prize in a declamation contest, once interviewed Norman Thomas, etc. After 5 minutes of this, Moderator pro tem Rogers, with the support of the Selectmen ruled Woodruff out of order with the comment that his charges were of no consequence; that, if he did not care for a certain candidate, all he had to do was vote against him. This stand was hailed by vociferous cheering and clapping and Woodruff resumed his seat. Ogden was then elected unanimously to serve as Moderator.
The Town Report was accepted with very little discussion. Woodruff criticized the Officers for not including , in full the report of the State Auditors. The Selectmen explained they did not think it worth the expense and that the report was in the Clerks office for anyone to read that might want to. The Town Manager system was discussed next. James asked for an opinion from the Selectmen concerning the system. Ginter replied that there are only three problems in Hartland: Roads, Schools and Taxes; that the School Directors attend to the Schools, the Selectmen have charge of the Taxes and that leaves only the Roads ( and the Poor) for any Town manager to contend with. He stated
that the cost figures in the Hartland News , while not absolutely accurate were basic that the Managers salary comes only partly from the road money. In general he stated that the Selectmen did not recommend the system for Hartland. Woodruff gave a speech in favor of the system. In reply to Mrs Alfonse, Blaisdell presented figures to show that the salaries for the old system during its last full year were:Road Commissioner $3,216 Overseer of the Poor 315 Selectman – bookkeeper 25 ------------ $3,556
Town Manager salary for the current year was $3,600 , leaving a difference of only $44. The question was settled by ballot, 110 in favor, 50 against. Later in the meeting, Blaisdell received a unanimous vote of confidence.
Town Meetings are known for providing good entertainment, whether that is the intent or not. As for Mr. Ogden, he was certainly qualified for the job, and served for many years as a State Senator. Like Mr. Ruggles, he was a man of many opinions. We’ll visit him more some other time.
Reprinted from the Hartland Historical Society Newsletter, Spring 2005.