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Norwich Selectboard votes to hire interim manager of mystery

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 9/15/2021 9:23:55 PM
Modified: 9/15/2021 9:23:59 PM

NORWICH — The Selectboard voted this week to hire an interim town manager to run Tracy Hall until Norwich finds a permanent replacement for Herb Durfee, who left last month after his contract was not renewed.

However, officials aren’t saying who they chose to fill the interim role.

Selectboard Chairman Roger Arnold said the board voted Tuesday night to “make an offer of employment” to one candidate. That offer, he said, is still contingent on reference and background checks.

“The Board hopes to share more details about the candidate and their background at the earliest practical moment following completion of the steps outlined in the Board’s motion,” Arnold said in an email.

He declined to answer questions about the interim manager’s salary, start date or past experience. Emails to the four other Selectboard members — Claudette Brochu, Marcia Calloway, Robert Gere and Mary Layton — were not returned.

The decision to appoint an interim manager follows two special meetings, one last week where a candidate was interviewed and another Tuesday where board members discussed the hiring.

Both meetings were largely held in executive session, without members of the public present.

Since Aug. 31, Norwich Planning Zoning Director Rod Francis has served as an interim town manager after Durfee’s departure.

The Selectboard voted, 4-0, in July not to offer Durfee — who was making $90,911 a year — another contract, ending his four-year tenure in town. At the time, board members declined to elaborate on their decision.

Finding a permanent replacement could take between 12 and 16 weeks, warned Richard McGuire, executive search consultant for the Vermont League of Cities and Towns, during a Selectboard meeting last week.

McGuire, whom Norwich has hired to perform its town manager search, said finding the right person is a “two-way street.”

“The town obviously wants to find someone who has the skills and personality that fits well with your community but also the candidate you select, we have to make sure that Norwich is a good fit for that person as well,” he said in a CATV recording of the meeting.

“You can find what you think is the best person, but if they’re not happy with their work, then they’re not going to last very long,” he added.

Norwich has a contentious history with past town managers. Durfee was wrapping up a 15-month agreement that included a performance plan when he left.

Prior to his tenure, former Town Manager Neil Fulton resigned in 2016 after 4½ years of service in which Selectboard members, often behind closed doors, discussed his performance and whether he needed to sign a formal contract.

McGuire said his and VLCT’s services finding a new town manager could cost between $8,000 and $12,750. As of Wednesday afternoon, an advertisement for the job hadn’t yet been posted to the VLCT website.

“The process is at its beginning stages, and we anticipate an updated calendar from the consultant in the next week or so,” said Arnold, the Selectboard chairman.

Tim Camerato can be reached at tcamerato@vnews.com or 603-727-3223.




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