Residents sought to fill five at-large seats on selection panel
HANSON — The Board of Selectmen voted to form a local search committee for the town administrator selection process, instead of hiring a consulting firm — and by a narrow margin opted for a panel of seven members.
Town Administrator Ron San Angelo leaves on Aug. 14 to become Southbridge town manager.
Selectmen further voted on Tuesday, July 7 to appoint Chairman Bruce Young, as the board’s representative to the search committee, along with a member to be named from the Planning Board and five citizen at-large members.
Residents interested in applying for an at-large seat on the search committee must apply to the selectmen’s office at Town Hall by Friday, July 17. The board will make the appointments at the Tuesday, July 21 meeting.
An elected member of the Planning Board was suggested as that board is well acquainted with town By-Laws.
The board will also interview available interim administrators on July 21.
The fee range from the consulting firms — which would create a town profile, advertise the position, screen applicants and perform background checks — runs from $8,500 to $17,000.
“To spend $15,000 to hire a firm I think is crazy,” Selectman Kenny Mitchell said.
Selectman James McGahan agreed, but argued that a screening committee “has got to be a good mix” of residents and officials.
“It shouldn’t be everybody who agrees with one another,” he said. “There should be different backgrounds, different opinions, Democrats and Republicans, the whole deal.”
“I don’t think we need [to worry about] the D and R, but I get your point,” said Mitchell, who served on the police chief search committee with Selectman Bill Scott before either of them were elected to the board.
“I think it should be done with residents of the town,” Selectman Don Howard agreed. “They know what the town of Hanson is. ”
Residents Mark Vess of High Street and Richard Edgehille of South Street also advocated for a local committee.
“There’s been a lot of unofficial volunteers already to help you do the job,” Vess said.
“I think your decision is very wise,” said Edgehille, noting he did not think the town got “the best bang for the buck” out of the evaluation of town government the UMass, Boston-based Collins Center consultants performed when René Read was town administrator.
The 3-2 vote on a seven-member search committee marked the only disagreement over the issue between board members. Young, McGahan and Howard all supported seven members, but Mitchell and Scott both felt the number had been unwieldy on the police chief search panel.
“I think the more input, the better,” McGahan said.
All previous town administrator searches had used five-member search committees, Executive Assistant Meredith Marini said.
Marini had also served as interim town administrator in the past, but declined to do so this time. Available retired town administrators, who work as interims on a free-lace basis, will be asked to interview with selectmen on July 21.
In other business, selectmen surprised resident Iris Morway with a proclamation honoring her for her work to beautify town traffic islands and veterans’ memorial corners.
“If the individual had known that this would take place, I don’t think the individual would have come because she’s the kind of person that doesn’t want recognition,” Young said in announcing the honor.
Morway noted she was not alone in the beautification of Hanson.
“It’s been a pleasure to do it and it wasn’t just me,” she said. “We did have a garden club at one time — there are still a few other girls involved. It is our community and we like to put our best foot forward.”