HANSON — Selectmen welcomed two new members and discussed ways to attract more residents to the ranks of public service at the board’s annual reorganizational meeting on Tuesday, May 22.
Selectman Kenny Mitchell was also elected the board’s new chairman, joined by new Vice Chairman Jim Hickey and Matt Dyer as clerk. Dyer, Selectman Wes Blauss, Cemetery Commissioner Jim Flanagan — who had accepted his four-write-in-vote win — Health Board member Arlene Dias and Housing Authority member Benjamin Fletcher were sworn in by Town Clerk Elizabeth Sloan to start the meeting.
W-H senior Marc Benjamino was among more than two dozen people receiving one write-in vote for cemetery commissioner, with another nine people attracting two or three votes each.
Mitchell offered thanks to former Selectmen Chairman James McGahan and former member Don Howard for their service.
“Don Howard is a breath of fresh air,” Mitchell said. “He loves the town of Hanson. … Don’s blood type is 02341.”
Mitchell also noted that Howard, who served on more than a half-dozen committees might be interested in, and would certainly be welcome to, continue serving on some of those. Not all the appointments need to be selectmen.
Mitchell asked Blauss and Dyer to look over the committee assignments filled by Howard and McGahan to determine which ones they would be interested in serving.
Selectman Laura FitzGerald-Kemmett suggested that social media platforms such as Facebook could be used to outline the skill sets needed and time demands required of boards and commissions.
“Trust me, I understand the words I’m saying out loud in this town — Facebook and Hanson, not a great mix,” she said. “But I do think for some people, that’s the level, that’s where they’re engaged and there are ways to prevent people from abusing that and using it just for information.”
She has been doing some of that outreach on her own already.
“We need some fresh faces,” FitzGerald-Kemmett said.
“One of the problems I see with maintaining a Facebook page is maintaining a Facebook page,” said Town Administrator Michael McCue, noting that a planned IT hire cold be tasked with doing that, among other responsibilities. “One of the things we would expect of an IT director is [his or her] currency with new technologies and any new methods for getting information out.”
FitzGerald-Kemmett also reiterated the need for more transparency in the process for filling appointed committee vacancies, urging they be posted with more regularity to help attract new people with the right skill sets and reassure the public.
“We want to open it up, welcome everybody and be really transparent,” she said. “They’re being appointed by us.”
Selectmen also reviewed their goals for the year, many of which are still in the works — such as reuse of the Maquan School building, new cell towers, Plymouth County Hospital reuse, potential new highway building among them — while goals of hiring a new police lieutenant and a part-time facilities manager have been completed.
“These things are being accomplished with the invaluable assistance of … department heads … and staff members,” McCue said. “When I read a list of things and say, ‘We’ve done this and we’ve done that,’ these are really staff accomplishments.”