By Elizabeth F. McNamara

It’s been nearly five months since the Town Council dismissed Gayle Corrigan as town manager and appointed Public Works director Joe Duarte to fill in on an interim basis. Having filled other crucial vacancies fire chief and finance director, both also vacant since last fall – the council is now beginning the search for a new permanent town manager, with a plan to move quickly, with consideration that a Fiscal Year 2020 budget needs to be approved by June 15.

“We’ll move it along as fast as possible,” Council President Schwager said during a special session Thursday.

Council members decided to keep the search in house.

“I think we chose the best fire chief possible,” said Councilman Mike Zarrella in reference to recent hire Bernie Patenaude. “I think we got elected to make tough choices and we can do it…. I don’t think we need to spend additional dollars [on a search firm].”

The other councilors concurred, with Renu Englehart noting that the council would “have better luck, knowing what we want” in a town manager.

Last time, said President Mark Schwager (the only council veteran), the council got about 50 applicants, but 35 of them were not “serious contenders.”

“I think the five of us could do this very quickly,” he said. “I would be in favor of keeping the group small and doing the screening ourselves.”

“It really is, by charter, our job,” noted Councilman Mike Donegan.

The council named acting manager Duarte, Schwager and one of the town solicitors to an administrative panel to handle compiling the job description, posting the job and fielding and distributing the applications.

Duarte did not say whether or not he would be interested in applying for the permanent manager job.

“He’s welcome to apply if he’s interested,” Schwager said Friday. During the Thursday night council meeting, Schwager thanked Duarte: “He has done an amazing job in continuity of town services without missing a beat. With him … we were able to move forward.”


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