GROTON — In a surprise announcement last Monday night, Board of Selectmen Chairman Fran Dillon revealed that Jean Kitchen, the town’s long-time administrative officer, intends to vacate her position by the end of June.

The announcement at the end of the board’s regular weekly meeting set off a round of discussion about what should be done next to begin a search process for Kitchen’s replacement.

Listing a number of options open to the town, Dillon suggested that the board could simply hire a new administrative officer, re-evaluate the position of administrative officer to see if any changes should be made or seek an interim administrator who would give board members more time to find a permanent candidate.

Observing that “the time was right,” fellow board member Mihran Keoseian suggested it might be good to give “serious consideration” to the possibility of upgrading the position of administrative officer to a town manager.

“I agree,” said Selectman Peter Cunningham. “I think we are evolving in that direction. We need to make that decision fairly soon.”

“I see this moving toward a town manager as well,” chimed in Selectman Win Nordblom.

Not dismissing the idea of creating a town manager position, Dillon cautioned the board that the search process would have to begin “fairly soon for what we have to do.”

“The public needs to be part of this process,” advised Kitchen.

Although Dillon mentioned an Oct. 1 deadline date for hiring her replacement, Kitchen said she expects to leave the administrative officer position by the last week in June.

Kitchen, who has served as the town’s administrative officer since 1991, will seek a similar position in the town of Southborough.

A flag for Harlan

Also last Monday, the board accepted a flag from the sisters of long-time resident Harlan Fitch who died last year at the age of 89.

According to Zelda Moore and Hilda O’Hara, the flag had been presented to their deceased brother by the town in appreciation for the many and varied services he had given the town during his lifetime.

“Harlan, at various times, held a dozen positions in town,” confirmed Dillon when thanking the sisters. “Hopefully, with his flag on display, he will be even more remembered. I’m sure he will be looking down. It means a lot to us. It means a lot to the town.”

Among the many roles Fitch played in town government were a 25-year association with the Planning Board, his role as town treasurer, surveyor of wood and lumber, fence viewer, assessor, election warden, and town diarist.

“Thank you for making this all possible,” said Moore. “Harlan loved this town. Even though he was soft spoken, his mind was always working.”

Cunningham said he thought it “extremely fitting” that the flag would be on display in the Town Hall’s upstairs conference room where many of the town’s land use boards meet, including the Planning Board.

“That’s a very good place for it to be,” said Cunningham.