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HAMPDEN — In the wake of Hampden’s Cemetery Commissioners resigning en masse at the end of 2023, the Board of Selectmen appointed residents Joan Shea and Duane Mosier to the Cemetery Commission, to serve until elections are conducted in the spring.

Both individuals have had previous experience on town boards. Mosier, a former Board of Selectmen member, was unable to attend the meeting. Shea, who is involved with the Council on Aging, said she is retired, but previously worked at a funeral home. “So, I’ve visited a lot of cemeteries,” she said with a chuckle. Shea said she is only planning to serve on the commission until the next town election, in May.

At the Jan. 2 Board of Selectmen meeting, Town Administrator Bob Markel shared that the members of the Cemetery Commission had resigned in protest. The commissioners had hired an administrative assistant without performing a background check and the salary offered was not in keeping with the town’s compensation schedule. Further, the hiring was done outside of open session, which is required by the state’s Open Meeting Law. When Markel told the commissioners they would have to repeat the process, following the required policies and procedures, they quit.

With no Cemetery Commission or an administrative assistant, the town had no one to handle the upkeep and management of Old Cemetery on Chapin Road and Prospect Hill Cemetery on Scantic Road or coordinate burials. The Board of Selectmen had appointed themselves temporary commissioners until the positions could be filled, but later, there was confusion over whether that was the correct step to take.
Davenport said Shea and Mosier would need to hire an administrative assistant.

The town is still seeking a third member for the commission. Interested individuals should contact the town administrator.

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