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GROTON — At their initial meeting, members of the Town Manager Search Committee laid the groundwork for a process that is expected to stretch over the summer months and into the fall.

A Search Committee was enjoined by the town’s new charter, which received final approval at the recent town election, but it was not until the Board of Selectmen appointed five committee members last week that the group could began its work.

The Search Committee is made up of Finance Committee member Jay Prager, planning administrator Michelle Collette, former library trustee Mike Manugian, Personnel Committee member Robert Flynn, and Selectman Joshua Degen.

Also in attendance at last week’s inaugural meeting was personnel manager Elizabeth Currier, who had done some research regarding salary range, advertising and a job description for the prospective town manager. In fact, Currier might to have been a bit overzealous in her duties, having followed the letter of her instructions from the Board of Selectmen by placing some advertising for the town manager position, ahead of the committee’s first meeting.

Also present last week was town clerk Michael Bouchard, who participated by swearing in committee members and presiding as Flynn was chosen as chairman.

The committee’s first order of business was figuring out exactly how long it would remain in business. The question is an important one as the selectmen gave the group a date of June 30 (coinciding with the end of the fiscal year) for its expiration.

Complicating the issue is a provision in the charter calling for a 90-day window for a Search Committee to complete its work.

The contradiction was settled when members chose to allow the June 30 date to stand, with the caveat that if its business had not been completed by then, the committee would continue working until a town manager is selected.

The selection process itself was expected to be a lengthy one. Committee members guessed that scores of applications would be received, due to Groton being an attractive town in which to live and work.

Degen suggested that the group might have to meet more than once a week, in order to sort through all the applications and narrow the field down to a handful of finalists.

Saving time was important because only 90 days had been allowed from the time members were sworn in to the completion of the process.

However, some members expressed concern that the 90-day window itself might present too tight a schedule, especially over the summer when people planned to take vacation. For that reason, Prager suggested that the committee should not feel bound by the 90-day limit.

Still, committee members voted to set Aug. 28 as the deadline for applications, with the review and sorting process to proceed as submissions were received.

By the time the screening process is concluded sometime in September, the committee will have narrowed the field down to three to five candidates, who would then be submitted to the Board of Selectmen.

Selectmen would then schedule interviews for the finalists and choose from among them who will be Groton’s first manager.

Selectmen have already voted to continue their contract with Jeffrey Ritter, the town’s current administrative officer, to the end of September, with automatic renewal every month after that until he is replaced by the new town manager.

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