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HEBRON — Hebron selectmen and the roads commissioner each defended themselves against claims of bias from a local resident.
T.J. Canning of Hebron accused road crews of sometimes skipping his road while plowing during storms and targeting his basketball hoop with plows. In addition, he claimed that he was being unfairly singled out by Town Clerk Joan Clough, who he says "badgered" him about registering his dog.
Town officials denied that Canning was being singled out in any way.
Canning told Road Commissioner Warren Packard that town plowing crews had skipped his road during major storms. In addition, Canning felt they had singled him out for harassment.
"We can't seem to get a plow truck down there more than once, maybe twice a storm," said Canning "This year, specifically, I've been stuck just trying to get to my driveway because there's eight inches of snow on the ground. As I'm sitting there stuck, the plow truck comes up behind me and buries me in."
"Last year, as well as this year, I've come home and seen where a truck has scooped snow from across the road and put it in front of my driveway."
In addition, Canning said that a stationary basketball hoop by the road in front of his house had been hit six times in the past three years and was falling down as a result. While Canning said he had heard from Selectman Jim Reid that the equipment was in the town's right-of-way, he did not feel like the issue had been properly addressed, and he had instead been targeted by trucks.
"Three years, not once has anybody ever come over and talked to me and showed me documentation showing me that it can't be there. It's been hit six times in three years," said Canning. "It's a metal pole in the ground; you can't miss it. I don't understand how it can be accidentally hit. I honestly believe that it was targeted just to take it out and do whatever it takes at whatever cost to get it done. Instead of talking to me and being civil about it, you took matters into your own hands."
Packard defended his crews, saying he was not aware of any plan to either skip Canning's road during plowing or target him for any reason.
"I don't know of any of my trucks scooping snow from one side of the road to the other," said Packard. He added that no one in the road crew knew Canning personally, and would have no reason to go after him.
"I don't think anyone is going after your hoop because no one knows who you are," said Packard. "My drivers don't know you; this is the first time I saw you."
Selectman Jim Reid said that the town could not be held responsible for damage to the basketball hoop, in particular, because it was in the town right-of-way.
"You can understand when he's trying to set those bankings and it's in the right of ways, he's going to push through whatever he needs to," said Reid.
Reid added that the hoop was, in fact, putting town vehicles at risk in a way that Canning could be held liable for. "The basketball hoop hangs over the road. That's more crucial than the post itself. If we take our new plow truck and go up through there, sanding, and we meet someone up there with the lights bright and that basketball hoop is hanging out and it rips the side of the truck or rips the mirror off, that's a bigger issue than the basketball hoop itself."
Canning also targeted Clough for criticism, claiming that she had singled him out in her requests that he register his dog.
"The straw that broke the camel's back is ... about my dog, or the dog that I used to have. First, a couple weeks ago, my basketball hoop gets knocked down; I'm having issues with plowing my road this whole time and then, I have Joan, badgering me about registering my dog every single time I come here," said Canning.
Reid responded that the clerk was "just doing her job," but Canning countered that he knew "dozens" of other people who didn't even know that they were required to register a pet.
"I think the few are singled out as a means to push buttons, that's my personal opinion," said Canning. "I have no proof on that other than that there are many people here who don't register dogs, so why is Animal Control calling my house? I have no proof, but I honestly believe it's a one-way thing and anybody that she has issues with, she'll push buttons."
Board Chairman Richard Deans denied that any such bias existed. Clough, he said, was merely following state guidelines that require all dogs be registered.
"She will continue to do her job in the best way she can and if that means getting a hold of people, if they feel they're being singled out, then they feel they're being singled out," said Deans. "That's not her mode of operation."
The board agreed to provide Canning with documentation proving that his basketball hoop was, in fact, in the right-of-way, and urged him to alert them the next time he had a problem with the plowing.
"We'll get you your information that you request. I hope that next time you have issues, you can take them up in the season since we haven't had any snow in the past two months," said Deans.
Canning agreed that, with proof, he would be willing to move the basketball hoop from the right of way, and said he would alert the road crews to issues with plowing if they arose again.
In other business, the board:
• Approved the use of Oxford County EMA's CityWatch program.
• Heard an update on the summer roads projects from Packard.
• Re-appointed Nancy Strong to the position of ballot clerk for the upcoming SAD 17 budget referendum.
• Signed a contract with Responsible Pet Care to house the town's stray dogs.