Reed Joins Runyon On Select Board; Big Wins For Water Quality Projects

By: Ed Maroney

Assistant Town Clerk Kelly Darling opened and organized mail-in ballots at the polls.


ORLEANS — When the town’s top elected officials meet for the first time as a select board, a woman will be among them.

Andrea Shaw Reed, outgoing chair of the planning board, drew 1,393 votes at the town election Tuesday to join Mefford Runyon, who received 1,251 votes to win another term on what will now be known as the select board. Incumbent David Currier, with 911 votes, was not returned to office.

Although the candidates were officially running for selectman, Tuesday’s ballot asked voters to confirm the decision of last year’s annual town meeting and change the name to select board, which they did, 1,589 to 294. The new board’s first meeting could be as early as today (June 25) at 4 p.m., for approval of applications for outdoor dining with alcohol service if any have been submitted. The board’s next regularly scheduled meeting is July 1.

“I’m grateful for being given three more years by the Orleans voters,” Runyon wrote in an email. “I look forward to working with Andrea and the other official select board members. There will be plenty to do.” Reed and Currier could not be reached for comment late Tuesday.

By wide margins, voters supported debt exclusions for water quality projects, as well as an air quality project for the fire station. The vote was 1,345 to 518 for the $12,218,000 additional cost of finishing the downtown sewer system and building a treatment plant and effluent disposal area, and 1,360 to 498 for $1,700,500 to cover preliminary design work for the Meetinghouse Pond sewer collection system and for further deployment of permeable reactive barriers as part of nitrogen removal efforts.

The vote was 1,530 to 361 to support $400,000 in improvements to heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems at the fire house, where air quality is notably deficient.

“We are very grateful to the voters of Orleans who voted to invest in the health of their firefighters and to begin to address the facility needs of the fire department,” Chief Geof Deering said in an email. “The air quality and HVAC issues are real safety concerns to our staff and this will be an important step.”

Voters approved a public advisory question asking town officials to push the governor and Legislature to do more to address spent fuel storage and safety issues at the decommissioned Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant in Plymouth, by a margin of 1,665 to 209.

Turnout clicked in at 1,974 of the town’s 5,341 registered voters, or about 37 percent. Many voted by mail, and the processing of those ballots, which could not be done until the polls closed, delayed announcement of the results for about 45 minutes. Poll workers at the senior center were masked and plastic shields were in place at check-in and check-out desks as everyone tried to maintain pandemic etiquette.

In uncontested races, incoming Constable Kevin Higgins led the pack with 1,658. Sims McGrath was returned to the board of health with 1,579 votes; colleague John Kanaga was running a write-in campaign to retain his seat, bur those results were not available by press time. Judith Schumacher won another term on the regional school committee with 1,534 votes; Gail Briere (1,517) and Sassy Richardson (1,448) on the elementary school committee, and Steven Gass (1,473) on the library board of trustees, where he’ll be joined by newcomer Joan Francolini (1,456).

No one ran for the five-year term on the housing authority, but write-ins were recorded and whoever has the most votes will be asked to serve.