BLUE HILL — Selectman Vaughn Leach, citing overwhelming demands from his roll-off container business due to the pandemic, has resigned from his seat on the board. But also, he and his wife, Melanie, have moved to a rental house in the town of Surry while they build a new house on land they own in Blue Hill.
As a selectman, you need to be a resident of the town you’re serving, not just a property owner, Leach explained.
The native son’s current term was due to expire in April. He has been a selectman since 2013.
“This is not an easy decision,” Leach said. “I didn’t want to let anybody down.”
When Leach became a selectman, serving with former board members Jim Schatz and John Bannister, he owned Blue Hill Disposal and was working half-days so he had more time to devote to public service.
But he sold the disposal business to Josh Gray of Brooklin and created a new enterprise, BHD Containers, a roll-off container business.
“Since I sold Blue Hill Disposal and created the new business, Josh’s business grew exponentially and so did mine,” Leach said. “I was already booked six days a week but when COVID hit business exploded. It’s crazy.”
Because of the pandemic and Mainers spending more time at home, people are busy doing home repairs, improvements, renovations and also hiring contractors to do the same. So, lots of refuse is being generated and filling up Leach’s roll-off containers. Leach said if the opportunity arises and his business slows down, he would like to serve as a selectman again. It’s an experience he’s enjoyed.
“One thing has been being a sounding board for the general public with questions and concerns,” Leach said. “I’ve always liked being able to answer questions and most of the time resolve them.”
“It’s really been great working with everyone involved now,” Leach said.
His fellow selectmen, Ellen Best and Jim Dow, concur.
“Vaughn was a tremendous help on the Select Board,” said Best. “He was well tuned into all parts of the community and willing to listen to all with an open mind. He always seems to have a contact for any occasion, and willing to pitch in on all manner of issues — working on the budget, being a driving force behind Blue Hill’s roadside cleanup, arranging fireworks for the town for Fourth of July, to name just a few. He will be missed.”
Dow added, “Vaughn’s resignation was a surprise that saddened us.”
“Vaughn has served our town very well for the last eight years,” Dow said. “He cares deeply about the well-being of our town, brought a valuable perspective to the Select Board, and always made decisions that he thought were in the best interest of the town. Vaughn has done an especially fine job as the chair of the board for the last two years. Vaughn, Ellen and I have worked very well as a team, addressing the many and increasingly complicated issues facing our town. Despite our sadness at his resignation, we understand that sometimes things going on in our personal lives force us to make difficult decisions about our civic obligations. We know that resigning was a difficult decision for Vaughn. We will miss him but are grateful for his service and wish him well.”
Leach’s last day on the board was Jan. 6.
The board does not intend to appoint an interim selectman since there are 12 weeks remaining until the election, at which Leach’s seat would be filled.
Leach recalled that when the late Selectman Duane B. Gray passed, Schatz and Bannister ran the board together for seven months — from Gray’s passing in September 2012 to April 2013, when Leach was elected.
Leach estimated that hours needed to tend to town affairs have increased significantly during his tenure.
“I would say I have put in two or three times as many hours and will say that at that rate was still not enough time,” the former selectman said.
The past couple of years have been busy for the board as it worked on personnel policy, writing job descriptions and searching for members to serve on boards and committees. The proposed harbor dredge, dealing with town business and annual Town Meeting during a pandemic and looming commercial solar development interests have just added to the work.