Mayor suspended DPW head during snow emergency

Posted at 11:51 PM, Nov 25, 2014
and last updated 2015-11-20 23:51:52-05

Outraged voters in the Village of Farnham ripped into Mayor Julie Ann Gibbons, Tuesday night. They're angry she suspended the Village's Public Works Chief, Ellsworth Nolan, during the lake effect snow emergency, Saturday.

Gibbons says Nolan was insubordinate. 

"Mr. Nolan was asked at the beginning of the storm about clearing fire hydrants," Gibbons said.

The mayor said Nolan initially refused.

"Don't you stand there and say to these people I didn't want to do it, because I wanted to do it," Nolan shouted.

Nolan's son, who doesn't work for the Village, was operating a village backhoe to clear snow.  Board members say he was qualified to use it.

"In a state of emergency, as far as I'm concerned, any capable operator of that piece of equipment should be called in," Trustee Vincent Rovnak said.

The 50-or-so people at the meeting didn't want to hear Gibbon's excuses or reasons for suspending Nolan. They interrupted her several times during a drawn out explanation about her actions.

"Order in this room! I’m asking for order in this room," Gibbons yelled.

The Mayor tapped her pen, listening to the people in the room. Her hands shook throughout the meeting.

One woman yelled at the mayor, "You shouldn't be mayor, damn it!"

Residents and board members have clearly lost confidence in their leader. They unanimously called for Gibbons to go, effective immediately. She refused to resign.

Gibbons says Nolan told her to "f--- off" which is why he was suspended.

The board voted to reinstate Ellsworth Nolan as Chief of the Department of Public Works. He will return to work next Monday and will receive all payment.