CLARKSBURG, Mass. — The town administrator has come to an agreement with the town to leave with another year still on her contract.
Rebecca Stone of Halifax, Vt., hired in 2019, has not been in the office since a fiery Select Board meeting on Aug. 25 about problems in the treasurer's office. Stone walked out, saying she was going home sick when then Chairman Ronald Boucher told she was getting a verbal warning.
Since then, officials have described her absence as an "extended medical leave," and "extended medical" reasons were given for her permanent departure.
The separation agreement approved by the Select Board on Wednesday morning covers six months of the year left on Stone's three-year contract plus her sick time and covers her health insurance into November.
The board also accepted the resignation effective Thursday of Administrative Assistant Darcy Feder, who was initially hired as the treasurer back in January. Feder said she was leaving for another job.
The departures cap months of turmoil in the town's financial department and now a complete turnover in Town Hall positions. Employees have said there was a lack of support and leadership from Stone. Feder on Wednesday said she'd been dropped into an office that had not had a town accountant or treasurer for a few months and told to make do.
During discussions on hiring her replacement, interim Town Clerk Marilyn Gomeau suggested the position include several hours to help in the town treasurer's office and that teamwork be paramount.
"I mean from from my observation being in the building, it's very tough some of the work that they have to do and the treasurer is under a lot of pressure," said Gomeau. "There's a lot of work and she's working extremely hard."
Select Board member Allen Arnold echoed that, saying if it was a matter of looking for someone who could also assist the treasurer, that should been done. "We need people that are gong to be team players, I think that was part of our problem in the past," he said.
Feder, taking minutes, said, "for the record, I would just like to add if any of these suggestions were made six months ago, I wouldn't be handing in my resignation."
Select Board Chair Danielle Luchi, participating via phone, said she appreciated the comments but reminded the meeting that the treasurer's position had been increased to 40 hours in recognition of the amount of time required.
"We're just going to take things one step at a time and get a job description and go from there," she said.
Over the past year or so, the former administrative assistant retired, two town clerks quit, two town accountants quit, and the town treasurer left. Plus the chairman of the board resigned a week after the Aug. 25 meeting, leaving two Select Board members.
The latest lineup at Town Hall is Gomeau, the former North Adams city clerk, as interim town clerk; Amy Cariddi, originally the administrative assistant and now the town treasurer; and Donna Estes, the former town accountant who quit last year but who is back as an interim.
Select Board Chair Danielle Luchi, participating via phone, said the town will be posting for a part-time interim town administrator, a permanent administrator and an administrative assistant. The board has also set a date of Tuesday, Dec. 7, for a special town election to bring the board back up to three.
Luchi said Estes will be staying on for the time being.
"Donna has signed on to see us through finding a town administrator and closing out '21," she said. "She's staying with us for a while, which is great."
The town treasurer's office is nearing the goal of closing out fiscal 2021, she added.
The board hired former treasurer Ericka Oleson, who is now the treasurer for the town of Stockbridge, to come in part-time to focus on closing out the fiscal year. Hilltown Municipal Accounting Services, hired in July, is continuing to work on straightening out the treasurer's office.
In other business, Luchi said she misunderstood a communication from the Massachusetts Office on Disability about a $350,000 grant. The town is not getting the grant but has been determined eligible to apply for the grant. A presentation on the grant will be held on Wednesday evening, Oct. 27, at the Community Center. The Green Communities grant is correct (LED lights, school heat pump and weatherization in town buildings) as is the agreement with National Grid for switching out streetlights.
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My choice for mayor of North Adams is Jennifer Macksey.
I did not make this decision lightly or without thorough thought and analysis. For over 23 years, I have practiced law at my office across the street from City Hall and have been acutely interested in the direction our mayors have led this city. North Adams has the good fortune of having 2 worthy candidates to vote for this fall but only one will get my vote.
I have known Jennifer for over 20 years and have had numerous interactions with her both professionally and personally. As a result, I am convinced as to her outstanding character, decisiveness and leadership abilities. She has always been responsive, reasonable, and willing to make tough decisions by tackling them head-on.
However, it is Jennifer's vast work experience and commitment to excellence that sets her apart. Her recent positions stand out as a testament that she is immensely qualified to be our mayor. While working as tax collector, at Southern Vermont College and at MCLA, Jen has had a history of managing personnel and personalities. As mayor, her educational experience as both an instructor and an administrator will serve her as the chairperson of the School Committee.
She is experienced in long-term planning initiatives, overseeing budgets and finances for multiple entities and is very familiar with employee compensation, negotiating contracts, worker benefits, insurance contracts, bidding procedures, state and federal compliance and dealing with bargaining units. She has acted in a supervisory capacity and is familiar with the inner workings and realities of city government from her previous position as treasurer and CFO of North Adams.
Please join me in voting for Macksey as our next mayor on Nov. 2.
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