PELHAM -- Twenty-four candidates submitted their applications by the mid-March deadline to be considered for Pelham's town administrator opening, selectmen announced during Tuesday night's meeting.
The board did not publicly disclose any names of the 24 applicants who are vying to take the reins from Interim Town Administrator Joe Roark. During their public discussion of the search process, however, selectmen revealed that at least two of the job candidates are current town employees.
Roark was named Pelham's interim town administrator on Jan. 9, when former 11-year Town Administrator Tom Gaydos was placed on leave. Gaydos resigned Feb. 11 for reasons that were kept between him and the board.
Roark, who was assigned to collect the applications as they came in, said he provided copies of all the job candidates' paperwork to each selectman, who pored through the submissions over the past two weeks before informing Roark of their individual rankings of the applicants.
According to Roark, the next task the board needed to undertake in the executive session that followed Tuesday night's meeting was to determine how many of their top-ranked job candidates they wished to interview in person.
"I think there were some great candidates that applied," said Roark. "There were two or three near the top of everybody's list. There were several more that a majority of the of board also mentioned as strong candidates...
Selectman Bob Haverty advocated for figuring out the three top-rated applicants based on an average of the selectmen's rankings, but Selectmen Hal Lynde, Ed Gleason and William McDevitt expressed a desire to give a greater number of applicants a chance to sit down face-to-face with their potential employers.
"We have a couple of internal candidates who don't have the same level of qualifications than some of the others who applied, but they do bring internal knowledge of the town, and another set of talents" said McDevitt.
Inviting internal candidates to interview for the town administrator's position "would also signal there is room for growth in town," McDevitt added.
Lynde also urged the board to take a bit more time to conduct in-person interviews of at least a half-dozen job candidates.
"This is the most important position we can interview for," said Lynde. "I do not want 'status quo.' We need to find somebody who can show leadership, an ability to work with people and lead them, and who can also follow the directions of this board. At least on paper, there appear to be several candidates that appear able to do that."
The board did not schedule public interviews for the job candidates, instead making plans to meet on successive Saturdays in executive sessions to conduct interviews.
"There might be some expectations on the part of the public that at least some of the (town administrator job interview) sessions will be held publicly, but that's something the board still needs to discuss and determine," said Roark, responding to The Sun's question after the meeting.
No specific annual salary for the Pelham's next town administrator was advertised along with the position. Roark said the salary will be determined based on the job candidate's experience and qualifications. Gaydos earned $105,000 in his final year, according to the Town Report.
In other action, Town Planner Jeff Gowan updated the board on the continued steady progress of the dual roundabouts project through Town Center. Gowan said work on the second roundabout, located where the old fire station once stood, has begun and is slated to be finished before Old Home Day in September.
Work on the second roundabout is expected to become especially intensive in late April and early May, Gowan advised. "If pressed for time, I'd say avoid going through Town Center during that stretch, if you can," he said.
Also, the board voted unanimously, 5-0, to update the town's website by hiring Virtual Town Hall webmaster service for an appropriation of $8,900. Roark and Lynde made the recommendation to go with Virtual Town Hall because it uses open source software and is more compatible with social-media platforms than its competitors, they said.
After the vote, Gleason took a moment to praise and thank the town's cable-TV administrator Jim Greenwood for having set up the town's original website. "Jim built and provided us with a great website for many years. We just want to take it to another level," Gleason said.
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