Selectmen's Meeting Heats Up Over Castricone Hiring
The school committee chair and her husband showed up to voice their anger.
When Selectman Chair Tracy Watson asked if there was public comment from the very small audience at Monday night's Board of Selectmen meeting, the board got an ear full.
Larry Allen, husband of School Committee Chair Chris Allen, stood at the podium and blasted Watson and Selectman Rosemary Smedile over comments they made to local media about he and his wife hiring former North Andover High School wrestling coach David Castricone's roofing company to fix their roof.
"I had leaks in my roof, three that I knew about," Larry Allen said. "Apparently all the roofers are busy these days. I contacted four different roofers, they were all busy. One could come down, made a bid, but couldn’t get to it until next year. I made the decision to work with Castricone. This was my decision."
Castricone is charged with possession of child pornography. He was arrested in February after a student reported seeing him in the girls' locker room and police reportedly found a stash of child pornography in his home. He is currently out on bail awaiting trial.
"I‘m well aware of the charges Mr. Castricone is facing," Allen said. "However, I contracted a roofing company. The company has not been charged with anything. Again, this decision is mine, and I have every right and responsibility to make it."
Larry Allen then claimed that the media spotlight on the issue was sparked by a member of the Board of Selectmen. The Valley Patriot published photos of Castricone's trucks parked at the Allens' home.
"Someone on this Board arranged for the Valley Patriot to be notified, and they dispatched a photographer to my house to take pictures of my house," Allen said, looking directly at Watson. "This was politically motivated."
He blasted Watson and Smedile for comments they made to local media about his decision to hire Castricone. Both had expressed concern and disapproval toward the hiring.
"This is most disgusting to me because before this event, I would call both Mrs. Smedile and Mrs. Watson my friends," Larry Allen said. "Up until now we’ve been friends and neighbors. These are not the actions of friends."
Watson was visibly furious at the accusation that a selectman alerted the Valley Patriot of the roofing situation. Watson has been out of work for more than a week due to illness and denied having anything to do with the media catching wind of the situation.
"That’s a very big statement to make Larry, and you make it without pointing a finger, you make it at the entire board," Watson said. "And that’s disturbing to me. Do you have proof?"
Allen said he had names of people who had told him things but refused to name names. He then asked if Watson denied calling the Valley Patriot.
"You make an allegation, follow through on it Larry," Watson yelled. "Yes, I absolutely deny that. I deny it on my son. How dare you accuse me of that? If you are in a bad situation, that is because yourself and Chris made a bad business decision."
Watson then apologized for raising her voice to him but stood by her comments about hiring Castricone.
"Use whoever you want to use," Watson said. "With your wife being chairman of the School Committee, I feel it’s a bad choice. As chairman of the Board of Selectmen, I felt it was appropriate to give my opinion."
When Smedile spoke, things had calmed down. Smedile had also publicly expressed concern about the decision to hire Castricone.
"I am sorry that this has happened to you," Smedile said about the negative public attention. "What I saw is that we have a very troubled individual who was arrested at the school, and your family hired this person and dredged it up again."
Smedile went on to say that she feels Chris and Larry Allen are good people but reminded them that town officials face scrutiny that private citizens do not. She felt it was her place to say the decision to hire Castricone was not right.
"I believe Chris Allen is a very good person, and I believe you are too Larry," Smedile said, adding that she thought the Allens should have explained the extenuating circumstances of their roof problems and apologized. "Larry, you are a private citizen, but your wife is not. We are absolutely held to a higher standard."