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Unanimous decision to offer Wetzel DPW Supt. job offer

Nashoba Publishing/Mary Arata
DPW Supt. finalist Mark Wetzel received unanimous support from the Ayer Board of Selectmen Tuesday night following his public interview. Sitting behind Wetzel in the audience is Ayer Capital Planning Committee Chairman Mary Spinner.

AYER – The Ayer Board of Selectmen unanimously decided on Tuesday night to extend a job offer to Mark Wetzel of Reading to become the town’s next DPW Superintendent.

Wetzel is now to work out employment terms with Ayer Town Administrator Robert Pontbriand. Pending a favorable outcome, Wetzel indicated he’d be able to commence work in Ayer in approximately two weeks time.

Wetzel was accompanied by his wife Joan Wetzel for the public interview. The couple has two grown sons.

Wetzel was the sole recommendation from the DPW Supt. Screening committee, chaired by David Wolfe.

There were 11 applicants for the post. Wolfe informed the selectmen last week that 7 applicants were removed from this mix off the top since they didn’t meet minimum qualifications.

The screening committee met with four of the semi-finalist candidates behind closed doors. Though they had originally contemplated giving the selectmen the names of 2 to3 finalists candidates for consideration, the committee unanimously agreed to forward only Wetzel’s name to the board.

Wetzel is a 32-year resident of Reading, Massachusetts. He’s worked primarily as a water and wastewater engineer. Presently Wetzel is a Senior Associate at Wright-Pierce in Andover where he’s worked for the past 4 years where he’s charged with business development for the engineering firm.

The Ayer selectmen advertised a preference for a candidate with a Bachelor of Science degree in civil engineering. Wetzel has that education. The selectmen also wanted a Licensed Professional Engineer, which Wetzel has also attained.

Wetzel admitted that he lacked both state certifications for wastewater and waterworks operations. “I am confident that I can obtain the appropriate licenses in a timely manner,” Wetzel wrote in his cover letter to the board. Wetzel said he teaches courses within the water certification program, and estimates there’s areas of overlap between the two fields.

As Ayer’s DPW Superintendent, Wetzel will oversee water, wastewater, solid waste and highway operations.

Wetzel said he lacked experience with the collective bargaining process, but that he felt confident in the world of negotiations due to his past professional experiences with negotiations over fees and salaries. Wetzel reports working within the confines of the state Procurement law but state’s he’d seek advice when necessary to navigate the law’s tricky, technical waters.

Wetzel said his management style is to lay out clear expectations, goals and deadlines for employees. When they’re not met, he’s been involved in counseling for wayward employees. If a firing were necessary, it’s not for want of warning, he said.

At one point, Wetzel reported managing and technical leadership for 90 employees throughout New England with one prior employer.

Asked why he’s looking to leave private industry for this municipal post, Wetzel answered, “I’m at point in my career where I need to do something different.”

“I have some ideas and programs we could introduce though first I want to find out what the town’s goals and objectives are,” said Wetzel. “But that seems more fulfilling to me than how much can I bill a client this month.”

Wetzel has been actively involved in Reading municipal affairs with service on the town water/wastewater advisory board where the water rates are set, on a household hazardous waste committee, as a member and former chairman of the Reading Conservation Commission and presently serves on the town’s Forest Committee.

Since graduating from the University of Vermont with a Civil Engineering degree in 1978, Wetzel has worked also for Stantec Consulting in Westford, Dufresne-Henry of Westford and Weston & Sampson in Peabody.

The position was advertised with a salary range of $69,906 to $91,203 with the salary set depending on qualifications.

If terms are reached, Wetzel will replace former Ayer DPW Supt. Dan Nason who left on March 16 to become the DPW Director for the Town of Northborough.

–Follow Mary Arata at

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