PEPPERELL — Two candidates are on the shortlist for the town-administrator job.
Michael Green, selectmen chairman and member of the search committee, shared the results of the reference checks he did on Mark Andrews and Michael Bissonnette with selectmen Oct. 20.
After meeting with three candidates the previous week, the Board of Selectmen narrowed the field to these two.
“Obviously, these are people they’ve recommended,” Green said. “I was not expecting any bombshells.”
The superintendent of Chicopee Public Schools said Bissonnette, the former mayor, is a good communicator, collaborator and listener.
The only people who did not like him were those he held accountable and did not want to hear the truth, he told Green.
Chicopee’s assessor, who has worked under four or five mayors, told Green that Bissonnette had the best grasp of the budget process and knowing where the money was coming from than any other mayor she has worked for.
The assistant town administrator of South Hadley, a neighboring town, lives in Chicopee and serves on two commissions. Bissonnette has a great personality and is very approachable, she told Green.
Andrews is town administrator for Wenham.
The Wenham selectmen chairman told Green he could not say enough good things about Andrews. He worked well with everyone and turned around a morale problem when he arrived.
Around 80 percent of the town’s services are performed as part of a joint agreement with neighboring Hamilton, he said.
A selectman in Wareham, where Andrews worked in the past, told Green, “You’re getting a good guy.” Andrews came in during a turbulent time and was a calming force.
Michael Sullivan, the former mayor of Lawrence, told Green that Andrews worked well with the nine members of the council and got things accomplished during his tenure in that city.
Andrews also knows whom to contact in state government to get information.
The fire chief in Wenham said he found Andrews to be open-minded and that he was not a micromanager.
“I won’t like seeing him go,” the chief said.
Because Andrews is leaving a position, Green said he called other employees at Town Hall to find out how well he works with others.
“It’s good,” one said.
“I work very well with him,” said another.
“I think we have two very good candidates,” Green said.
Immediately before the meeting, selectmen received background checks on the two finalists and read and reviewed them during an executive session.
Selectman Stephen Themelis contacted Pepperell’s town administrator who is on vacation. John Moak agreed to do some research on the candidates when he returns Tuesday.
The selectmen decided not to reopen the search.
Green requested a motion to enter into contract negotiations pending the results of the background checks and Moak’s input. Neither of the other two selectmen made the motion.
“We can call a special meeting prior to Town Meeting,” said Themelis. “Decisions will be made by Monday night for sure.”
Pepperell Town Meeting is scheduled for Oct. 27 at 7:30 p.m. at Nissitissit Middle School.
In other business:
George Ux, director of Pepperell Emergency Services since 1966, stepped down to become the assistant director.
“I’ve been here a little too long,” he said. “I’m going to be 85 years old.”
David Querze, who was the assistant director, is now the director.
“We’ll keep our department the same as it’s always been,” he said.
The Economic Development Advisory Committee reported its findings to selectmen. The town needs more business and new residents. The committee suggested looking at Heritage marketing to attract visitors and new residents. Areas of historic interest and the open lands in town can be a more effective marketing tool, said member Diane Cronin.
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