Retired Rochester TA tabbed to steer town through transition
HANSON — The Board of Selectmen Tuesday, July 21 appointed an interim town administrator and resident members of a search committee.
Retired Rochester Town Administrator Richard LaCamera was the only interim candidate interviewed as Suzanne Kennedy, who had also been on the list, was no longer available.
In accordance with regulations governing the part-time employment of retirees, LaCamera said he expects to work about two or three days a week and is “absolutely not” interested in applying for consideration as a full-time town administrator.
“I could start next week if I had to,” he said. “I’m certainly not going to work five days a week, so I want you to know that. … It’s something to get you through the transition and keep things functioning on a day-to-day basis.”
LaCamera has 32 years of municipal experience in Lakeville, where he served as a selectman and member of the finance committee, and Rochester where he was town administrator for eight and a half years.
Selectmen will have to negotiate and approve a contract with LaCamera. They questioned him on his knowledge of funding regional school projects and his opinion of selectmen public safety liaisons and their attending department head meetings.
LaCamera said he is comfortable with the liaison concept as Rochester has a Public Safety Committee that meets once a month and is part of a regional school district. While he agreed with Town Administrator Ron San Angelo’s view that department heads might not be comfortable with selectmen sitting in on meetings, he had no firm objections.
“I don’t mind [it] sometimes,” he said. “I like the department head meetings to kind of be outside of that, if possible, because department heads tend to say things when selectmen aren’t there, but I’m OK with it if that’s what you want to do.”
Joining Selectman Chairman Bruce Young and a member of the Planning Board on the search committee, selectmen voted to appoint small businessman Michael McLeod, retired Verizon executive Joseph Amaral Jr., retired educator Constance Constantine, former Board of Health member Richard Edgehille and Kenneth McCormick who is a Hanson resident and member of the Pembroke Fire Department.
Young thanked all those who applied for the search committee.
“It was especially good to see new people coming forward who have never been on a committee before,” he said.
Not selected from the pool of 10 applicants were Community Preservation Commission Chairman Laura FitzGerald-Kemmett, South Shore Vo-Tech Superintendent-Director Dr. Thomas Hickey, Library Director Nancy Cappellini, former Selectman James Egan and Plymouth County Mosquito Control Commissioner Kimberley King.
McLeod received a vote from all five selectmen and McCormick received four on a paper ballot circulated among selectmen. Receiving three votes each were Amaral, Constantine, Edgehille and Hickey. Selectmen voted publicly during the meeting to break the four-way tie. At the end of the first round, Edgehille and Hickey were still tied with three votes each.
“I don’t think we should go to eight [members],” said Selectman James McGahan. “It’s too big and it’s an even number.”
In the end, Edgehille received votes from McGahan, Kenny Mitchell and Bill Scott. Selectmen Don Howard and Young voted for Hickey.
In other business, selectmen voted to place an article on $79,841.03 of the $179,841.03 cleanup of Hanson Middle School following a sewage backup in April caused by improperly disposed sanitary napkins.
The W-H insurance carrier pays out a maximum of $100,000 for sewer backups.
The school district had the damage repaired and cleaned twice, but later swab tests required by the Category 3 sewerage backup revealed bacterial contamination in “areas the we ordinarily wouldn’t get into” under cabinets, for example, according to Facilities Director Ernest Sandland. Once walls were opened during repair work this summer, more damage and contamination was found.
“Those were items that were not covered in the original investigation because we didn’t know what was there,” he said. “They went to work last week and that’s when this whole thing started to unfold — the additional work that needs to be done.”
Selectmen’s approval was required to get the work done before school opens.
Both Sandland and School District Business Manager Christine Suckow said Principal William Tranter had immediately contacted the school nurse after the incident about conducting preventive talks with students on how to properly dispose of feminine hygiene products.
“He followed it up appropriately,” Sandland said.
Selectmen also voted to place a $12,100 article on the October warrant for Hanson’s share of a failing hot water heater that serves the lavatories at Whitman-Hanson Regional High School.