Retired Shelburne Police Chief Jim Warden will be the 2018 Colleen Haag Award winner for public service to the community.
The Shelburne Selectboard voted 5-0 on Tuesday evening to select Warden, who completed 30 years of service with the town in January.
The move brought a round of applause from the audience. Tears came to the eyes of Shannon Warden, the ex-chief’s daughter, as audience members offered her congratulations for her dad.
Board Chairman Jerry Storey told Warden’s daughter that the town would be in touch to determine the proper time and setting for the presentation to her father.
The selection had become sytmied in politics in recent weeks. Even Haag, the former longtime town clerk and current treasurer, had asked to step away from the selection committee for the award in her name created after her retirement in 2016.
The logjam cleared during a series of three motions Tuesday proposed by new Selectboard member Mary Kehoe.
The totality of the motions was simple: Appoint a new committee that will look at setting the criteria and picking the winners starting with the 2019 award, while letting the Selectboard pick the 2018 winner — as advertised in January.
In nominating Warden for the honor, Kehoe noted he had generated by far the most nominations, which came from residents sending them to the Shelburne News, Front Porch Forum or the town offices.
Dr. Josh Dein, another board member, seconded the motion. There was no debate or discussion nor other names suggested. The motion also passed unanimously.
Kehoe initially asked that the board reconsider its action from the last meeting, including the formation of a selection committee. Board member Dr. Colleen Parker questioned the reasoning. Kehoe said the Selectboard did not have all the information it needed to make a proper decision. The motion was approved 5-0.
The second motion was to have a new committee focus on 2019 and not the current award.
Resident Sean Moran said he was concerned about the selection committee approved at the earlier meeting because one member had shown a bias about making the decision and had written a negative letter, which opposed Warden.
“I want it to be fair,” Moran said about the process.
Moran said he reviewed the video of the Selectboard meeting a few times and it was unclear to him if the board actually decided on a two-person or five-person selection committee.
Haag told the Selectboard she was unaware that when she was appointed that the second appointee to the committee, last year’s award winner Jim Brangan, had said he was opposed to Warden and would prefer the award go to a volunteer, not a town employee.
Board Chairman Storey said he hoped that as time passes, Haag will reconsider being on the committee. He said Haag, who continues to serve the town as the part-time treasurer, should at least be consulted if not serving on the committee going forward.
In his three decades as police chief, Warden was a popular member of the community. For an unknown reason, he had a falling out with Town Manager Joe Colangelo last summer that resulted in Warden being suspended for three days. The suspension was later withdrawn and Warden agreed to retire in August, remaining on the town payroll as a consultant until Jan. 31.
Many who nominated Warden for the Haag award pointed to his dedication to both his job and individuals in the community along with his pastime teaching dog training classes for years as reasons he should be honored. Shelburne also dedicated its annual town report in March to Warden.
According to the description on the town website, the Haag award was created to be awarded annually to someone who “exemplifies the spirit of public service, who has shared his or her time, talent and energy for the betterment of our community, who inspires purpose, who drives lasting solutions, someone who makes a difference.”
The actual award is a bright pewter bowl on a pedestal, designed in the image of a silver bowl presented in 1963 to the town by the ninth Earl of Shelburne – a direct descendant of the second Earl of Shelburne for whom Shelburne is named. The British earl bestowed the silver bowl on the town’s 200th anniversary.