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Webber Returns to Cheshire Next Week as Interim Administrator

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
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CHESHIRE, Mass. — The Board of Selectmen unanimously appointed Mark Webber as the interim town administrator on Tuesday.
 
Chairwoman Michelle Francesconi said he will likely be at their next meeting.  
 
"He was here earlier this week just to get the lay of the land, and hopefully he will be here next Tuesday night," she said. "I am excited."
 
Webber, who retired in 2018 after a decade with the town, will step in to replace Edmund St. John IV, who resigned last month.
 
Although the Selectmen plan to do a full-scale search for a new administrator, which could take upwards of a year, board members decided that someone needed to be brought on to run the town's day-to-day operations in the interim.
 
The board briefly considered a search but then reached out to Webber, who agreed to cover the post in a part-time capacity. Tuesday's vote made it official.
 
Selectman Mark Biagini said he thought the board made the right decision and felt it would take too long to get a new person up to speed.
 
"It is good to have him back because he knows the town, he knows the departments, and I think it would be rough getting someone acclimated," he said.
 
Francesconi said Webber will put in 12 hours a week and prefers to work in town. Instead of working these 12 hours in one day as he had done in the past, Webber will split the time in half.
 
Francesconi said she was in contact with the Massachusetts Municipal Association about possible consultants to help with the search process for a new town administrator. She said they listed Municipal Resources Inc, Community Paradigm Associates, and the Edward J. Collins Jr. Center for Public Management at the University of Massachusetts at Boston.
 
She said she would prefer to avoid the Collins Center, which worked with Adams and Cheshire in the past. When the Hoosac Valley Regional School District was looking to close an elementary school, the Collins Center was hired to prepare a report to help the School Committee in its decision.
 
The decision was to close Cheshire Elementary School; this is still a point of contention in Cheshire.
 
"I think to bring them back would be problematic," Francesconi said. "Not that their services aren't valuable, but I think their name alone would dredge up feelings we don't need to dredge up."
 
The Selectmen asked Francesconi to reach out to the two remaining firms and request scope of work and cost estimates.
 
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Cheshire Could Face Budget Hurdles in Town Administrator Search

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
CHESHIRE, Mass. — The Selectmen are concerned that budgetary limitations could delay the hiring of a new town administrator. 
 
Interim Town Administrator Mark Webber gave an update on the search process last week and said he was at a bit of a crossroads between the job description and the salary.
 
"You won't have the budget until town meeting approves it in the second week in June," Webber said. "You certainly can't wait for them to approve it before you move forward so there is a dilemma there ... you can assume you are going to get it, but I rather have the money in place." 
 
Town Administrator Edmund St. John IV resigned late last year and town officials have been unsure if they wanted to bump the part-time position up to full time. This would come with an increased salary that at the moment is not in the budget.
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