The Board of Selectmen unanimously approved its communication protocol at its regular meeting Monday night. The document outlines the procedure to be followed when the First Selectman or other board members are out of town for more than two days at a time.

The need for such a document was brought up by Board members in March, following Republican First Selectman Dave Campbell's absence during a severe storm and its aftermath. Democratic Selectman David Bayne served as acting first selectman during Campbell's absence. But with no protocol in place for how to communicate between an absent officer and his temporary substitute, some believed there was room for error.

This new document, which was originally presented at a BOS meeting in April, but not voted on until Monday night, offers guidelines for future situations when the town's chief elected official may be out of town.

"The First Selectman will give notice to all Selectmen, via e-mail with a `reply all' request for verification that the e-mail was received and acknowledged, of dates and times he/she will be out of town and he/she will notify the Acting First Selectman by e-mail with at least 72 hours advance notice if possible. All board members will notify each other of trips out of town for longer than two days and shall contact the First Selectman upon return," the document states.

The acting first selectman will fill the first selectman's role until his return, according to the document.

"Only the Acting First Selectman has authority to issue directives to staff. Other Board of Selectmen members may support the Acting First Selectman if needed, but should not issue directives to staff to insure unity of command during an incident," the document states.

While Bayne served as acting first selectmen for the first six months of the Board's two-year term, the position was passed along to Republican Jerry Nielsen at Monday night's meeting, as per protocol. Each of the four regular members of the board serve as acting first selectman for six months of their term, and the position moves from one member to another in alphabetical order.