Smart Growth for Vernon, CT
Vernon town administrator finalist for Amherst position

By Jason Rowe
Journal Inquirer
December 21, 2005

VERNON — Town Administrator Laurence R. Shaffer is one of three finalists for town manager of Amherst, Mass.

Shaffer today confirmed his candidacy for the job.

Amherst has a population of 35,000. Vernon's population is slightly more than 28,000.

Shaffer, 57, who came to the town in April 1999, said he applied for the Amherst job because he felt it would be a good opportunity for him to advance professionally and personally.

I'm always looking for an opportunity to expand upon my professional growth," Shaffer said. "Certainly it's a very attractive community. It made sense in this particular time of my life to apply."

Amherst is home to a number of academic institutions, including the University of Massachusetts and Amherst College.

The other two candidates are the former town manager of Lexington, Mass., and the Amherst town finance director, according to the Daily Hampshire Gazette of Northampton, Mass.

The new town manager will replace Barry Del Castilho, who is retiring this spring after 23 years on the job.

Shaffer's salary in Vernon is $106,597, Finance Director James M. Luddecke said.

His contract expires at the end of March.

It is not known how much the job in Amherst will pay.

All three candidates are expected to visit the town in January, when they will meet local officials and tour the community, including the colleges, schools, and farms, according to the Gazette.

Shaffer said he does not know when Amherst officials will make their final decision regarding the job.

Although he is applying for a job in another town, Shaffer said he still loves Vernon and will continue to concentrate his efforts on the town.

"I've been treated marvelously in the town of Vernon," Shaffer said. "I think it's part of the whole profession. One continues to look for opportunities to expand upon personal and professional growth."

Mayor Ellen L. Marmer could not be reached for comment today.

Before coming to Vernon, Shaffer served as town administrator in Durham, N.H., beginning in April 1996.

Prior to working in Durham, N.H., Shaffer, a native of Herkimer, N.Y., was assistant city manager/city assessor in Keene, N.H., from 1992 to 1996.

Shaffer also worked as a city assessor and housing rehabilitation specialist in Oneonta, N.Y., where he graduated in 1975 with a degree in social science education from the State University of New York-Oneonta.

He earned a master's degree in public administration from the Nelson A. Rockefeller School of Public Administration and Policy from SUNY-Albany in 1986.

This is not the first time that Shaffer has been a candidate for a similar position in another community.

Shaffer's name surfaced as a candidate for city manager in Auburn, N.Y., in February 2000, less than a year after he was hired in Vernon.

Soon after, Shaffer withdrew his name from the running.

Shaffer also survived an April 2000 no-confidence vote by unionized Vernon Town Hall employees.