DRACUT -- Selectman have set a date and time for conducting public interviews of three finalists vying to become the next town manager for Tuesday afternoon, March 18.

The board will interview North Reading Town Administrator Greg Balukonis, Gloucester Chief Administrative Officer James Duggan and Salem, N.H., Town Manager Keith Hickey beginning at 12:30 p.m. in front of the DATV cameras at Harmony Hall, Selectmen Chairwoman Cathy Richardson announced.

The finalists will be interviewed separately and in succession through the afternoon for 75 to 90 minutes each, the board decided.

The scheduled order of the interviews was still being worked out with Balukonis, Duggan and Hickey on Wednesday, dependent on their schedules, according to Board of Selectmen secretary Shannon Rowe Beaulieu.

At their next regular meeting March 11, the board will discuss the questioning format and how to best utilize their interview time with each candidate, Richardson said.

The town has been without a permanent full-time manager since the board named Ann Vandal acting town manager Nov. 4. Dennis Piendak, town manager for 28 years, retired Nov. 15.

After a previous search last fall, the board chose Andover Assistant Town Manager Steven Bucuzzo to take the full-time job before two months of employment agreement negotiations ended in failure.

Selectmen then re-advertised the position through the Edward J. Collins Jr. Center for Public Management at a starting annual salary of $135,000.

The recruitment firm supplied the Dracut Town Manager Screening Committee with the pool of 22 applicants, from which Hickey, Duggan and Balukonis were publicly announced as the finalists Feb. 25.

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