Jean Perry, Neighb News Correspondent
The Fairhaven Select Board on August 16 finalized the Town Administrator Search Committee membership with the appointment of two Select Board representatives and two at-large citizen appointees.
Select Board Chair Bob Espindola’s pick was Leon Correy and Select Board member Stasia Powers’s choice was Kimberly Trahan. The at-large members are Anne Morton Smith and Gloria Perperas. Joining them will be School Committee representative Pam Kuechler, Finance Committee member Robert Grindrod, Board of Public Works member Cameron Durant, and Planning Board member David Braga.
Town Moderator Mark Silvia will chair the committee as the ninth voting member.
There is at least one candidate that the TA Search Committee will not be reviewing again, and that is current Finance Director/Treasurer/Collector and Interim TA Wendy Graves. Ms. Graves announced that she would not be applying for the job and stated that she informed Mr. Espindola and Ms. Powers that she would not be applying for the permanent position last Monday.
Since the board’s last meeting, Ms. Graves ceased recusing herself from the discussion and leaving the room, and now sits in on the conversation as a non-applicant.
Ms. Graves was initially a finalist during the first TA search process but was taken out of the running after the Neighb News published a story about Ms. Graves’s past employment controversies, and her personal financial legal troubles that resulted in court cases. (See the Neighb News 1/14/21 edition). She was added as a fourth finalist outside the search committee’s final three when Select Board member Keith Silvia motioned to grant her an interview, seconded by former Select Board member Daniel Freitas, who sat on the search committee as his own, self-appointed representative.
Mr. Silvia now recuses himself from the matter because of his conflict of interest, and Mr. Freitas has since been recalled in a special election.
Mr. Espindola referenced the last TA search committee and its lack of gender parity and said, “That’s clearly been addressed here,” as four of the nine members are women.
“I’m very excited to see this move forward,” said Ms. Powers. “I think we have a rock star team … [and] amazingly, all parts of the community represented. We can only get good results, and it’s really exciting.”
In other matters, the board refrained from establishing another mask policy for visitors to Town Hall until the Board of Health weighs in on the subject at its next meeting. For now, Town Hall entrances will feature a “masks suggested” sign, and masks will be made available to visitors along with encouragement to wear them.
The board has yet to call a Special Fall Town Meeting, but it appears inevitable as potential articles involving grant funding are added to the growing list of matters seeking approval before the year is over.
Ms. Graves said she consulted with the acting town clerk about requirements and a timeline for calling a special town meeting and said that the town clerk told her that “it’s not written out,” but typically requires a two to three months’ notice. *
The Town will be contracting with Pierce Atwood, a law firm that will assist the Town in exploring a tax-taking option for the Atlas Tack property. Mr. Espindola supported the idea of identifying potential liabilities and partnering with the state Department of Environmental Protection and the federal Environmental Protection Agency relating to the cleanup of the site.
In other matters, the board appointed Travis Rapoza to the Economic Development Committee. No one seconded Mr. Silvia’s motion to appoint Nils Isaksen. FinCom member Lisa Plante and Planning Board member Wayne Hayward were appointed to the Rogers Re-Use Committee as representatives of their committees.
*The Fairhaven Bylaws state that for a special town meeting, the warrant must be posted no fewer than seven days before the meeting, and all articles must be received 30 days before the meeting date.
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