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Cheshire Holds Town Administrator Interviews

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
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Former Selectman Edmund St. John IV, left, was the first of three interviews on Thursday night. 
CHESHIRE, Mass. — The final three candidates for the town administrator position were interviewed on Thursday night but the Board of Selectmen held off on making a choice. 
The two members of the Board of Selectmen asked candidates Edmund St. John IV, Marion Carr, and Thomas Spiro a set of questions. The each were given a half hour to answer and some questions were asked to all three while others were candidate specific.
The interviews were public but only a few people attended.
Town Administrator Mark Webber plans to retire in November and the selectmen are seeking a replacement who will work more hours. The part-time post has been increased to three days a week at a salary of $40,000. Nine candidates applied for the position and the selectmen chose three for final interviews.
St. John stepped down from Board of Selectmen, just over a year into his three-year term, to apply for the post. The School Committee member had been advised by the Ethics Commission to be off the board for at least 30 days before he could apply. 
"It was a hard decision to come to but really this was a decision to do more for the town and to be able to work more closely within the town, with the school and have an open dialogue," he said. "To be committed to the town and to be dedicated to the town."
St. John said because he is already planted in the community he thinks he will have an easier time transitioning into the position and the eventual shift to a five-member select board. 
"I have a working relationship with the town and I have some institutional knowledge," he said. "I am from this town, I grew up in this town ... this has always been my home and because of these relationships I think I can offer continuity to make this transition more smooth and faster."
St. John said he wants to better communication with the school district and to aggressively pursue grants. He added that as a resident he will always be available. 
If hired, he would like to stay in the position for a long time.
"I had the opportunity to stay in Boston after law school but didn't. I moved back. I moved 50 feet from where I grew up," he said. "We decided to put our roots down where we are ... and I would love to see this relationship grow for as long as possible ... I would love to be in this as long as the town will have me."

Marion Carr, former Otis town clerk, says her job at Head Start touches on many aspects of the town administrator's responsibilities.
Carr, the operations director at Head Start of the Berkshires in Pittsfield, spoke to her budgeting and municipal background and a desire to try something new.
"I really am looking for something that grows my experience and keeps me doing something different all of the time," she said. "I am looking for something that is a growth experience but that keeps me living in Berkshire County."
Carr said she does have some municipal experience and was the town clerk in Otis. She said at Head Start she has built budgets and applied for multiple grants. She said in May ways it is like running a town.
"It is very similar to what I do now. I establish all of their budgets and budget for all of their grants," she said. "I make sure all of the money is spent in the correct cost allocation method and I oversee maintenance."
Carr said the town's budget is comparable to Otis' and she would be comfortable coming into Cheshire. She said she has a flexible schedule and has been given the option to keep her job at Head Start part time.
Many of the tasks in the  town administrator job description she already does at Head Start, she said.
"I kind of touch on all of the little pieces I do some of the reporting for the board," Carr said. "I also have to meet with the parents at our policy council so I am used to dealing with everyone from all walks of life."
Spiro was program coordinator at Elms College's Greenfield campus and, prior to that, was town administrative aide in Conway for nearly eight years.

Thomas Spiro was Conway's administrative aide, which he says fulfilled many of the same duties as a town administrator. 
"I like to meet new people and I like to talk to the public that was one of my favorite things to do in Conway," he said. "I like being the face of the town and I would be the person that people would see when they walk in the front door."
He was essentially the town administrator in Conway, he said, and is well versed in the responsibilities that come with the job.
"I was doing the job. I prepared the budget, the annual report, I was the chief procurement officer and all of that fun stuff," he said. "I am very familiar with the position although not in this town. I know all towns are different."
Spiro said he had experience working with other communities and noted that Conway shared services and a school district with multiple communities. He also said he has a background in law, public policy, construction, and project management.
He no longer works for the college and manages finances for family members as well as bookkeeping for wife's business. He said he is very flexible. 
"I know I can do this job," he said. "I consider myself a jack of all trades and a master of a couple."
The Selectmen will make their decision at a future meeting.

Tags: candidate interviews,   town administrator,   

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'It's A Wonderful Life' Radio Play Being Staged in Cheshire

This particular production is intended to be "script-in-hand," a full reading/performance of a play where the actors are allowed to have their scripts in their hands so lines need not be memorized.

CHESHIRE, Mass. — The Cheshire Community Association will present a community production of the Frank Capra family classic "It’s a Wonderful Life," adapted by Tony Palermo, at Tuesday, December 17, at 7 p.m. in the Parish Hall of St. Mary of the Assumption Parish at 159 Church St.

Brought to the stage as a 1940s radio broadcast in front of a studio audience, a dozen actors play radio dramatists, who, in turn, portray 30 characters from the heart-warming holiday film. Featuring live sound effects and an original score, this is a rare opportunity to see how a 1940s radio show was produced.

Producer/director Marya LaRoche has put together a cast of acting newcomers and seasoned veterans, featuring Simon Cole as George Bailey, Tommy Towne as Clarence, Elizabeth Kozik as Superintendent of Angels, Casey McShain as Mary Hatch Bailey, Travis Mille as Radio Announcer/Uncle Billy, and Shevaun Keogh-Walker as Potter, along with Curtis Elfenbein Asch, Mary Lou Burdick, Michael Morin Garrity, Patricia Kelly, Tyne LaRoche, and Larry Leavitt covering multiple roles.

This particular production is intended to be "script-in-hand," a full reading/performance of a play where the actors are allowed to have their scripts in their hands so lines need not be memorized. The director will utilize blocking, limited costumes, props and sound effects to create a performance experience for the audience.

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