After a month of stress and conflict between Tiverton’s recreation commission, the Town Council, and Town Administrator Matt Wojcik, the annual Christmas Tree lighting sparked a flameout, which was promptly followed by the resignation of four of the commission’s six members.
With the resignation of Recreation Coordinator Keith Cory effective September 30, the events of the holiday season — a Halloween “trunk or treat” event and a Christmas tree lighting — fell on the volunteers. Some changes to the Christmas event appear to have contradicted the expectations of Town Council President Denise deMedeiros and Fire Chief Robert Lloyd, and the town administrator’s attempts to put Recreation Chairwoman Susan Gill on track hit a sour note.
On October 29, Gill sent an email to deMedeiros asking what role she would like to play. A package of notes and documents that Gill submitted to the council during a regular meeting on December 14 indicates that the council president never replied. Planning for the event, scheduled for December 5 continued through November until, on the 18th, the administrator emailed Gill asserting that “as a general matter my requests and interactions are not meant as suggestions,” and that the Recreation Commission should have sought approval from the council for changes to the tradition. He instructed the commission “to STOP and START OVER” planning to include deMedeiros and Lloyd.
A follow-up email from Wojcik stated that deMedeiros and Lloyd felt “slighted.” “There are some ruffled feathers here,” he wrote, “so everything going forward is under a microscope.”