HANSON — The Board of Selectmen will be considering a review of the Town Administrator Act to, perhaps, develop a uniform management policy for department administrative assistants in an effort to address concerns over the protocol used, and the proper appointing authority in the recent hiring of, Dori Jameson of Abington as administrative assistant to Recreation Director William Boyle.
Selectmen Chairman Laura FitzGerald-Kemmett said after asked for an opinion from legal counsel on the issue.
“I followed the process that we’ve used historically for the position,” said interim Town Administrator Meredith Marini about the selection process. “The town administrator works with the chairman and, generally, the department head, but previously we didn’t have a department head for recreation, so we had two members of the Recreation Commission review the applications, decide who they’re going to interview, select the interviewees and conduct the interviews.”
The town administrator then made a recommendation to the Selectmen.
That is the process Marini followed.
The position is one that ultimately reports up through to the town administrator, FitzGerald-Kemmett said, as the Selectmen appoint the Recreation Commission.
FitzGerald-Kemmett said some of the Recreation Commission members, however feel like they were not part of that process to hire someone they will be working with, and asked Marini to address that point as well as the opinion from legal counsel.
Marini said 11 applications were received for the administrative assistant position, which were sent to the Recreation Commission chairman and Boyle for review.
“We used those two people because that was what we used for other positions,” Marini said. The Recreation chairman, Boyle, Marini and Selectmen’s Administrator Greer Getzen each picked five or six people to interview. They interviewed the six people who “made it through the cut.”
“They were all good applicants,” Marini said. “They had varying skill sets for recreation.” Some were more involved in direct programs with residents — such as playing basketball with the kids — one had been an event coordinator for a restaurant and two were administrative people. Marini said the search panel selected the person with the strongest administrative skills.
Marini also said she is familiar with Jameson as someone she could go to with questions about handling administrative issues over the years. Jameson has also been an assistant town administrator/assistant town manager during that time.
Jameson knows how to run an office, open meeting law regulations and is a certified procurement officer. While Marini had been concerned why Jameson would want the recreation job, it turned out Abington had cut her position and asked her about it. While Jameson had answered that she enjoyed not working for a while, she really wants to work and thought the position was right for her.
Marini checked with town counsel to verify that departments under the jurisdiction of the Board of Selectmen, the Town Administrator Act lists Recreation as one they oversee.
But Town Counsel Katherine Feodoroff also suggested the Town Administrator Act be reviewed and perhaps adjusted for a uniform management policy to assure fair and equitable compensation across all departments.
“This comes up frequently enough” for FitzGerald-Kemmett to term it a good idea.
Some Recreation Commission members said they would at least liked to have had a say in narrowing the field of applicants to the final six.
Representatives from National Grid also attended the meeting to address frequent power losses in town.
“I want to make sure that the citizens of Hanson are not losing power at a rate that is just really getting kind of ridiculous,” FitzGerald-Kemmett said. “It’s a mere inconvenience to some people, but for a lot of people — quite a few people that may depend on oxygen tanks or are in precarious health conditions — it’s more than an inconvenience, its downright dangerous and life-threatening.”
She said she has heard from a couple of elderly people dependent on oxygen tanks, who “live in fear of us losing electricity,” FitzGerald-Kemmett said.
National Grid Manager of Community and Customer Relations for the South Shore Joe Cardinale said that, during storm events, he is in charge of community liaisons. During major events a liaison is sent out to every community.
“We look at where the outages are,” Cardinale said of after-storm procedures. “During every storm event, we have tree issues on this feeder [line].”
Once repairs are made, crews have to go up and down the line looking for any additional wires to houses that may be down before utility lines are re-energized, he explained. An expanded tree management program has been instituted to trim and/or remove problem trees.
Trees overhanging power lines are trimmed and an eight-foot right-of-way along power lines takes care of most town trees. All trees to be removed are tagged and homeowners are notified when privately owned trees are involved, and homeowners may decline to permit removal.
The entire circuit for Hanson is involved in the program.
All National Grid employees and contractors carry identification and customers can also call the customer service line or the Hanson tree warden.
In other business, the board received a preview of plans for the new Highway Department building and reviewed the boards goals and accomplishments for the year.
“We’ve had quite the year,” FitzGerald-Kemmett said. “And when we think of some of the bad things that have happened this year, I like to think of some of the good things that have happened.”
Leading the list of accomplishments, FitzGerald-Kemmett said were some key hires: Town Administrator John Stanbrook, who starts Jan. 6, Getzen and new Highway Director Matthew Cahill, who starts Jan. 2 as well as a new recreation director, environmental agent, health agent and conservation administrative assistant.
The acquisition of the Sleeper property abutting Camp Kiwanee, establishment of an economic target area along Main Street and work with a property owner at the former Ocean Spray building regarding his plans to develop a mixed-used property there.
The town is also exploring the reuse of the former Maquan School for affordable senior housing, meeting the required threshold for 40B housing in Hanson.
“We got JJ’s [Pub site] cleaned up, at no additional cost to taxpayers, despite naysayers,” FitzGerald-Kemmett said. She also mentioned the plastic grocery bag and polystyrene foam beverage cup and food container ban introduced by Selectmen Matt Dyer and Wes Blauss; regional dispatch services and planning for the town’s 200th anniversary celebration in 2020, among other accomplishments.
“I thoroughly enjoyed working with each and every one of you guys,” FitzGerald-Kemmett said of her fellow selectmen. “We’re very fortunate to be supported by a fabulous staff of people at Town Hall, volunteers on all the committees — we’re lucky. We’ve got a great town and it shows time and time again.”
Selectman Kenny Mitchell went over the Weston & Sampson plans just received that afternoon for the proposed highway barn at the former LiteControl property.
“This is not the final plan, so I don’t really want that out yet,” Mitchell said. The plans provide the scope of the building and parking lot, salt shed that has a non-permeable floor to avoid salt contamination of the wetlands, an low-heat vehicle storage building, fueling station and the main building, which includes a maintenance bays.