Industry Wire, Leadership

Massachusetts Residents Angry Over Losing Chiefs

BARRE — About 35 residents, angry because selectmen did not reappoint the police and fire chiefs, marched Sunday on the town common carrying signs and occasionally chanting, “Save our Chiefs.”

Organizer Dennis Fleming said he and others are frustrated that Police Chief Erik Demetropoulos and Fire Chief Joseph Rogowski could be ousted from their jobs on June 30.

A previous Board of Selectmen, composed of Kathlyn Inman, Richard Jankauskas and Lief Ericson, voted not to reappoint the chiefs. As a result, residents then voted out Ms. Inman in the annual election and recalled Mr. Jankauskas. An election will be held to fill Mr. Jankaskaus’ seat, but that won’t be before June 30.

Some residents said they want Mr. Ericson to resign now from his term that ends next year, and they said they are mulling whether to begin the recall process to end his term early.

“We are the ones who elected the selectmen,” Mr. Fleming said. “It isn’t totally up to the selectboard to make all the decisions. They should listen to their constituents, and they are not listening.”

Chief Rogowski said he is thankful for the support and he plans to fight for his job, though selectmen recently appointed his son Robert to fill his position after Phillipston Fire Chief Richard Stevens turned down an offer to become chief.

Mr. Fleming said the situation is embarrassing for the community.

“Who wants to come here and start a business? Who wants to come here and buy a house,” he said. “People are laughing at us.”

Members of the group said they may gather again to protest.