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ABOUT TOWN: Stoughton Town Manager Search Down to Final Seven, But Cost of Search Going Up

Welcome to "About Town with Mark Snyder," a column that will keep you up to the minute with what's what, who's who and what's going on around town. If you see or hear something we could use here, let us know by sending an e-mail to pmpco@aol.com.

STOUGHTON GENEROUS WITH TAXPAYER MONEY: Stoughton Selectmen were generous with taxpayer's hard-earned money Tuesday night, voting to give $2,200 toward half the travel, hotel and meal expenses of the final candidates for the .

That brings the total of the nationwide "search" to $21,100, more than the .

The search for a permanent Town Manager in Stoughton has been narrowed down to seven candidates. Some of these candidates live far enough away that they will need to fly into town for the two-day interview process set to take place September 12 and 13.

"The final seven candidates did the best on our consultants questionnaires and in their telephone interviews. And, they bring innovative ideas regarding sharing of personnel and equipment in tight financial times," Forrest Lindwall, of the Town Manager Citizens Search Committee, said, explaining why some of the candidates were from out of state.

But, Selectman Cynthia Walsh railed against the idea, adding, "You can imagine my dismay that people are being flown in long distance. I wanted to end up with a Town Manager that knows New England [form of government]," she said.

"I don't want on the job training on our local laws and customs. They should have lots of Massachusetts experience," she said, adding that the Board could have conducted the interviews on its own, as has been done in past cases. "It's getting really expensive - over $21,000 now." 

Recently, in U.S. World & News Reports, Alison Green wrote about this exact thing. She noted, "Before the economy went south, employers would almost always pick up the tab for candidates traveling for job interview flights, hotels, and sometimes even meals and entertainment. But in this market, with tight budgets and plenty of local candidates to choose from, employers are increasingly declining to pay for applicants’ travel costs."

But, in Stoughton, spending OUR money went through with flying colors, supported by Selectmen John Stagnone, John Anzivino, Steve Anastos, and Bob O'Regan. Walsh was the only one who opposed it.

Would we have lost an amazing candidate if we said no? Probably not. Many do not expect in this economy to have their expenses picked up.   

At the suggestion of O'Regan, and with Stagnone's backing, however, the Search Committee's consultant contacted Stoughton Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Terry Schneider, and the candidates stay at the will be discounted, and they will get a welcome gift. This due to an email and some phone calls made by Schneider.

The final seven candidates will be interviewed September 12 by three different panels - a group of professionals (led by the search consulting firm), a group of citizens (the search committee) and a group of town employees (department heads). Then the field of seven will be narrowed to three finalists. Selectmen will interview these three (in a meeting open to the public) starting at 7:30 p.m. on September 13.

A decision on the next Town Manager should come sometime soon after this interview process. Interim Town Manager Joseph Feaster , but since the names of the final seven candidates won't be disclosed (only the names of the final three candidates will be revealed at their public interviews on Sept. 13) it is unknown if Feaster is part of this group.

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A CAPITAL IDEA!  Stoughton Board of Selectman Chairman John Stagnone was quite enthusiastic about the additions to the town’s Capital Planning Committee.  This Committee, which was formed with the impetus of Selectman Bob O’Regan, will help plan the financial future of the town, and help prepare Town Meeting for expenditures in an informed manner. 

Stagnone said that, “this group of individuals are outstanding, and they will hit the ground running. I’m looking forward to seeing what they come up with.”

At Tuesday night’s Board of Selectmen meeting, the Board appointed John J. Hudson, Alan Olans, William Manburg, Debra Roberts, and Leon M. Rudman. All are experienced in the financial world and bring a lot to the table.

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Additionally, Beverly Harrison, a retired MBTA employee, has stepped up and become the Brockton Area Transit rep for Stoughton, while also joining the Council on Aging Board.

There were three additions to the Cultural Council, Sonya Posey, Patricia Kelleher Thomson and Terry Schneider were named.

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HAPPY BELATED BIRTHDAY: to Beth Ross, a licensed social worker from Stoughton, and a long-time volunteer at Ahavath Torah Congregation.  She celebrated yesterday (Thursday)

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