Freeport council appointee completes RSU withdrawal panel

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FREEPORT — The Town Council on Tuesday appointed Dennis King, the chief executive of Spring Harbor Hospital in Westbrook, as the citizen-at-large on the Regional School Unit 5 withdrawal committee.

King, a 15-year resident of Freeport, previously served on the board of Maine School Administrative District 22 as a resident of Hampden. He has served on the Maine Community College System board of trustees for the past 10 years.

“I have a master’s degree in public administration and I’ve been involved in nonprofit activities for a long time,” King said after being appointed. “This looked like a good opportunity for me to apply some of the skills I have.”

Frederick Palmer, John Paterson and Jane Bradley were the other candidates for the seat. All the candidates delivered brief statements at Tuesday’s special meeting; in advance of the meeting, they also submitted written answers to council questions about conflicts of interest and the role of the withdrawal committee.

During his statement, King said he is, by nature, a consolidator, but conceded that some mergers just don’t work.

The councilors asked no questions of the candidates and did not discuss them. They ranked the candidates using secret ballots to determine the appointee.

King rounds out the four-member committee, which also includes Councilor Rich DeGrandpre, RSU 5 board member Peter Murray, and Kate Werner, a member of Moving Freeport Forward, the group that petitioned for withdrawal.

In order to comply with state laws, RSU 5 Board Chairman Nelson Larkins must call the first meeting of the committee by Jan. 31.

The panel will negotiate a withdrawal agreement that must be approved by the state Department of Education. The plan will then go back to Freeport voters in a referendum before the town can officially withdraw from the RSU.

Freeport residents voted to withdraw from RSU 5, which also includes the towns of Durham and Pownal, in a special election on Dec. 17, 2013.

Brendan Twist can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or Follow him on Twitter: @brendantwist.