HANSON — Interim Town Administrator Meredith Marini announced to Selectmen on Tuesday, Oct. 22 that MRI, the consulting group conducting the search for a new town administrator, has received 39 applications.
Fourteen essay assignments were sent out to various candidates and MRI is currently scoring those returned essays. Following that phase, MRI will be conducting telephone interviews with candidates and expect to have a list of final candidates to the board by Oct. 31 or Nov. 1 and have asked how many candidates Selectmen want to see.
With three finalists, the interviews may be completed in a single night, but a list of five or more would likely require two.
“The recommendation was, once you have the interviews, you should make a decision quickly because these are good candidates and they are likely to be valued applicants in another community,” Marini said.
Selectmen Chairman Laura FitzGerald-Kemmett said she would prefer a list of five names as three seemed insufficient from such a large pool.
“We’re not talking about 39, 14 made the cut,” said Selectman Wes Blauss, noting only 14 were sent essay requests.
Selectman Matt Dyer asked how many essays were returned.
Marini said 13 seemed still in play, with 11 already returned and MRI saying they were waiting for two more.
“I really don’t want to put a number on it,” said Selectman Jim Hickey said. “If they have three applicants that they feel we should interview and get it done in one night, then OK, but if they have seven people — which is probably too high of a number — but if they have seven people that they think we should talk to, then it’s seven.”
Selectman Kenny Mitchell agreed.
“I like where you guys are going with this unless they say, ‘We have 14 great candidates,’ then we’re going to have a problem,” FitzGerald-Kemmett said.
The interviews will be conducted in a public meeting. MRI said they would be willing to work on consecutive days, including a Saturday, if the board wanted to interview more than three or bring two finalists back for a second interview before making a decision.
“I don’t have a problem being here three nights in a row, on television, because this is one of the most important decisions we’ll make as a group,” Hickey said.
MRI has offered to supply questions for the board to ask and will provide a list of questions they can’t ask.
Selectmen also voted to send a letter to Tetra Tech, the licensed site professionals working on cleanup of the National Fireworks site and collecting public comment, requesting that a complete cleanup be done to background at no cost to local or state taxpayers because they are currently in negotiations with the responsible parties.