June 20. 2018 9:51PM

Gilmanton town administrator resigns in the wake of recent turmoil

Union Leader Correspondent

GILMANTON — Town administrator Heidi Duval has tendered her resignation just weeks after assessing clerk Amy Russell did likewise.

Duval recently informed selectmen that July 6 will be her last day. She did not respond to an email seeking comment.

Selectmen voted to hire Municipal Resources Inc. in Meredith to recruit candidates for the administrator’s job.

Duval was contracted by the town effective March 2017 to serve as its top administrator for two years. Before that, she worked as assistant administrator and was trained by her predecessor Paul Branscombe, who had been town administrator since July 2015.

Duval also had worked five and a half years as deputy town clerk/tax collector before moving over to the selectmen’s office and helping out with assessing.

In recent months, Gilmanton has been named a defendant in two lawsuits.

Chief Matt Currier obtained a restraining order against the board of selectmen earlier this year after they issued a series of directives “to require the police chief to keep the board apprised of such department matters as staffing levels, length of shifts, use of cruisers and when officers may travel beyond town limits.”

In response, former selectman Don Guarino and a group of other residents posted lawn signs trumpeting their support for police.

“We support Gilmanton Police even if the Selectmen don’t,” the signs read.

When the town sent letters notifying property owners the signs violate a local zoning law and had to be removed, ACLU of New Hampshire took notice. The town backed down after receiving a warning from the ACLU about First Amendment protections of free speech.

Earlier this month, former town administrative assistant Stephanie Fogg sued the town claiming she was “constructively discharged” for being a whistleblower.

Fogg alleges she was harassed and retaliated against for being related to Guarino and claiming illegal and unethical conduct by town officials.