PEPPERELL — As of Monday night, Sept. 14, Town Administrator Robert Hanson had 12 days remaining until his retirement and selectmen, faced with a legal impasse that terminated the hiring of his replacement, Shirley Town Administrator Kyle Keady, faced three options, none of which was a sure thing.
Hanson strongly recommended that Pepperell not hire an interim administrator, because it would be unfair to place a municipal employee in a position in which he or she might have to make decisions about the municipal position. It can lead to, simply put, “a person covering their butt with a vote,” Hanson said.
Chairman Joseph Sergi said he has explored the idea with labor counsel, who said it could be done. The move would be procedurally easy, Hanson admitted, but functionally inadvisable.
The selectmen could re-interview former administrator candidate Richard Kwiatkowski of Orange, who has renewed talks with the town.
The third of the three candidates, Charles Blanchard of Sturbridge, also briefly reappeared then again withdrew his candidacy last week.
The board could also go back into the deeper pool of 11 candidates the Town Administrator Search Committee had interviewed and ranked.
Ultimately, the selectmen chose to go that route and contact the next three highest ranked of the candidates in the pool and include Kwiatkowski in the group.
Selectman Joseph Hallisey didn’t prefer to renew the weeding-out process but went with the idea because Kwiatkowski had not met his expectations with financial experience.
“I don’t want to go back (to the pool) either but I don’t want to settle,” Hallisey said.
Selectman Patrick McNabb assured Hallisey he wouldn’t be settling, pointing out that the search committee had ranked candidates on more than financial experience.
Sergi preferred a new search. Because Kwiatkowski had stayed in contact with the town, he offered the Orange administrator the opportunity to keep his candidacy alive.
“It’s no problem; he can be in a holding pattern if he wants to stay,” Sergi said. “I appreciate his staying with the town.”
“Sounds like we want three more names,” McNabb said.
“Yes,” Hallisey agreed, asking if the field should be limited to “the people we had before.”
“It’s been months (since initial interviews) and things could open up,” McNabb answered. “It could be as simple as contacting three names that would be brought before the board. If one of the three drops out, we’d go to the next (ranked) person.”
Meanwhile, Sergi announced that Shirley accountant Bobbie Jo Colburn withdrew her name late last Friday as a candidate to replace retiring Pepperell accountant Theresa Walsh after she had been offered the job a week prior.
“We have another candidate who has expressed interest,” he said.
The board met Wednesday Sept. 16, at 8 p.m. for that interview.
“Any thought of asking Terry (Walsh) to stay on?” Sergi asked. “She is very accommodating (but) we may nee to talk about moving forward on (accountant) interim services.”
It was agreed selectmen would speak with Walsh individually.
Monday night selectmen also accepted the resignation of Zoning Board of Appeals administrator Cheryl Lutzka, and Council on Aging members Ida Donovan and Dorothy Clary.