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Townsend Memorial Hall. (Jacob Vitali/Lowell Sun)
Townsend Memorial Hall. (Jacob Vitali/Lowell Sun)

TOWNSEND — An acting fire chief was unanimously appointed by the Board of Selectmen on Monday night.

Gary Shepherd will temporarily take the reigns from Fire Chief Mark Boynton, who announced he would be taking medical leave on Sept. 9 and returning on Oct. 1, according to interim Town Administrator Ross Perry.

Shepherd is a longtime member of the Townsend Fire Department and has most recently served as the department’s senior deputy chief.

Perry said he sought information from members of the fire department before making his decision.

In the past when the department has needed an acting chief, the role has rotated among members of the department. However, Shepherd will be the sole person handling those duties in Boynton’s absence.

“I think it’s important to have consistency and clarity as to who that person is each time. So after talking to several people, I decided to appoint Gary Shepherd,” Perry said.

Shepherd expressed a hope to “be able to execute the job as well as Chief Boynton has.” He said there was a meeting with members of the department last Thursday and work has already started on the transition plan.

“I think we have a plan to hopefully have a seamless transition, to be able to deliver the necessary services when someone calls,” Shepherd said.

During Monday’s meeting, fellow deputy chief William Elliott was in attendance and said he supported the move.

“I’ve managed my way through seven full time chiefs and several acting chiefs and I’ll have the back to this one,” Elliott said.

At the start of discussions, Board of Selectmen Vice Chair Joe Shank read a Disclosure of Appearance of Conflict of Interest statement. He said he had spoken with the state Ethics Commission and had filed a disclosure, which had been turned in to the town administrator.

Shank’s disclosure was required under Massachusetts General Law 268 A, section 23, subsection 3.

In his disclosure, Shank stated he is the owner of Harbor Auto Body in Townsend and added he has serviced vehicles for the town’s fire department, as well as for Shepco Inc., Shepherd’s company.

Through making his disclosure, Shank was allowed to participate in the meeting and will be allowed to participate in matters involving the fire department and Shepherd in the future.

The board’s Chair Veronica Kell and Clerk Chaz Sexton-Diranian voted to accept his disclosure.

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