15 Sep 2014
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Chelgren Plans March Departure, Interim Hire in the Works

The Wenham Board of Selectmen has started the search for an interim town administrator, with the hopes that person will be on board before Town Administrator Jeff Chelgren leaves in March.

Chelgren Plans March Departure, Interim Hire in the Works

An interim Town Administrator should be on board by mid-March in Wenham, when Town Administrator Jeff Chelgren plans to depart to take the same position in Marblehead.

That was the conclusion after the Wenham Board of Selectmen’s first discussion earlier this week about filling the town administrator position. Last week, Chelgren was offered the Marblehead town administrator position.

Chairman of the Board of Selectman, Molly Martins, asked Chelgren to write-up a job ad for the interim position.

“The first thing we need to do is find an interim,” Martins said. The hope is to have that person on board before Chelgren leaves in mid to late March.

But Martins said she also wants to hear from the Government Study Committee before making any final decision about seeking a permanent replacement sooner than later.

The committee is on target to making recommendation to voters at the Annual Town Meeting in May and she does not want to “ short circuit their process.” The committee is looking at, among other things, the roles and responsibilities of the Town Administrator and working to articulate a clearer role for the job.

Selectman John Clemenzi said he wants to board to see the resumes and applications from all interim candidates. Martins said she plans to have the board narrow down the field to three finalists.

Martins also asked Chelgren, in the coming weeks, to document – in detail – everything he does on the job. She wants all of the daily operational tasks listed as well as large projects he’s involved in.

“What you do versus what is on paper may be somewhat different,” Martins said.

Clemenzi said getting an interim town administrator on board will help establish continuity, but said getting a permanent replacement on board as quickly as possible is important too.

The town does not have “a completely stable” finance department and there’s no permanent finance director right now at .

He was concerned that the town’s “two top position” would be open simultaneously.

Patrick Wilson, a selectman, said Selectman should look to other area communities who have undertaken a similar search in recent months to find out about the process in those communities.

There’s recently been a search in Marblehead, where Chelgren was hired, and Nahant, where Chelgren was a finalist and lost out on the job in a 2-1 vote.

Ipswich, North Andover, Swampscott and Winchester are all currently involved in a search, or have recently undergone a search for either a town administrator or town manager.

“It’s not too early to look at how this process will take shape,” Wilson said.

Selectmen did not decide what an interim town administrator will be paid and plans to discuss it with the Finance Committee.

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