ADAMS, Mass. — The director of public works job will remain vacant for at least another week as the Board of Selectmen on Tuesday decided to ask two of the candidates back for another round of interviews.
The position has been unfilled for the better part of two years after David Nuvaille retired in 2017 2018.
Town Administrator Jay Green feels the time without a director might have given the town the chance to re-evaluate how the position is defined and what the town is looking for.
"Without a DPW director, we have been functioning and getting the essentials done. I don't want to hire someone just for the sake of filling the position," he said. "We are working with a very reactive mindset right now though. A pothole pops up we fill it. A structure we hear is falling apart we fix it. We haven't had the capacity or the skill set with someone who can look ahead. We need to introduce someone into the mix who can say, 'Let's look at next year and year two.' Let the operations supervisor run the day to day. That's been going well."
After last week's lengthy interviews of three finalists, it became apparent that the board on Tuesday could not come to consensus on one but was splitting in favor two of the finalists: Paul Markland and Robert Tober.
Markland has worked in the North Adams public works department for more than a dozen years, first in the Building Department and then in 2009 becoming highway superintendent. He is the assistant commissioner of public services, director of public works, and sewer foreman, and has served on a number of city boards. He was discussed at length at Tuesday's meeting.
Selectman James Bush threw his support behind Markland.
"All three candidates would be able to perform the job I think. But I feel Paul would understand the small-town aspect of it, working with a tight budget," he said. "He knows what we're up against. And he has the most experience."
Chairwoman Christine Hoyt felt all three candidates possessed experience enough to do the job but seemed to be leaning toward Markland as well.
"If there was a fourth candidate who had the skill sets of each of the three I think we'd be looking at the best DPW director ever. We probably wouldn't be able to afford that person, however. I'd like to hire someone who is going to be here for a while. Mr. Markland has been 13 years with North Adams and 17 years before that with another employer. The other two candidates have jumped around more," she pointed out. "Also of all of the candidates ... Mr. Markland is the only one with wastewater plant experience. The other two had road experience predominantly. We know there are some upgrades coming to wastewater treatment. He also talked about facilities management. We really need a steward for our facilities."
Tober lives in Millville and works for Caritas Communities, managing properties throughout the Northeast. Tober also had strong support from the board.
Selectman Joseph Nowak was particularly impressed by his education and breadth of experience.
"He had a view from the outside, something this community needs. He's got a master's degree in business but still wants to work 50/50 outside and in the office. He can take motors apart and tell you what needs to be done. He's got hands on and has a variety of life experiences," he said. "He had an even temperament during the interview, his answers were short and to the point and he was looking forward to the challenge."
Selectman Rick Blanchard agreed with Nowak that Tober was the best choice.
"Any of the three I think could do the job but I'm leaning more toward Tober. This person is going to have to be a voice for the town on some levels. I thought he handled the interview really well and made his points clearly," he said.
Selectman John Duval raised some important questions about the hiring process and the position's changing needs.
"I don't think we should be the ones hiring for the DPW director. This person is going to work for the town administrator. [The board] would have a limited working relationship with this individual moving forward. However [the board doing the hiring] is in the town charter so I will fulfill that duty," he said. "Paul Markland, good man, he would operate the DPW as it's been operated for the last 20-30 years. He'd do a fine job. But is that what this community needs going forward? It's becoming more a part of the technical field, the computer field. It's representing the community at meetings. He might need to represent the town at [Berkshire Regional Planning Board] meetings ... apply for grants. What are we looking for?"
The one candidate who didn't gain a lot of traction was Michael Salem. He currently works for the Virginia Department of Transportation but resides in Ashburnham. Salem said he would be willing to relocate should he get the job.
The board ultimately voted to invite Markland and Tober back for second interviews. They will be conducted on Monday, Dec. 9, beginning at 6 p.m. with the anticipation of hiring someone the same night.
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ADAMS, Mass. — The "Banners for Fallen Heroes" project has found a sponsor.
The project, which will honor Adams' servicemen and -women killed while serving the country with a banner hanging from utility poles through downtown, caught the eye of Adams Community Bank and it has stepped up to cover the associated costs.
"This is a no-brainer for our hometown. We know there will be some press obviously but we're not looking for that. This was something that was just right to do," said President and CEO Charlie O'Brien at this week's Fallen Heroes committee meeting. "These people have served our country so well, so nobly. Once we got some of the details everything just fell into place. It was something we had to do. We're happy and honored to be part of this project."
Selectman James Bush is part of the group and had trouble believing what he was hearing when he got the call from Senior Vice President of Lending Maureen Baran.
The Selectmen had asked Treasurer/Tax Collector Kelly Rice for a general health check of the town's collection progress at a meeting earlier this month and were pleased to hear her say on Wednesday that the numbers are generally positive.
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