Smart Growth for Vernon, CT
New town planner choice coming soon

By Jason Rowe
Journal Inquirer
April 24, 2006

VERNON - A new town planner could be named as early as next week, Mayor Ellen L. Marmer said.

And as the search for one top town job winds down, another will heat up as officials get a chance to hear from candidates looking to become Vernon's next town administrator.

Marmer said Monday that she expects to recommend a new town planner in time for the Town Council's May 2 meeting.

While the mayor can select her preferred candidate, the Town Council must approve any hire.

The new planner would replace Thomas J. Joyce Jr., who retired last month.

Town Administrator Laurence R. Shaffer said officials conducted a thorough search in which 16 applications were received in response to job advertisements placed in strategic publications throughout the region.

Of the 16 applications, six candidates were interviewed during a one-day session on April 8.

Those candidates appeared in front of a committee comprising Shaffer, Human Resources Director Daniel Sullivan, Town Engineer Tim Timberman, and representatives of various land-use commissions.

With the interviews complete, the number of candidates has been narrowed down to a "certification list" of three people, ranked in order of their qualifications.

Those names were expected to be submitted to Marmer for her selection by the end of last week.

Among those applying for the job is Economic Development Director and Assistant Town Planner Neil S. Pade.

It is not known if Pade's name is on the list of finalists.

"Any good personnel selection takes into consideration the individual and their qualifications, education, and experience," Shaffer said. "You are really looking for experience that is germane to the community."

Although he wouldn't talk about the three finalists specifically, Shaffer described them as being "exceptional people."

Meanwhile, the process to find a replacement for Shaffer once he departs at the end of June is entering its final phase, Marmer said Monday.

Shaffer will leave the town on June 30 to become town manager of Amherst, Mass.

At least three finalists for the job will appear in the community room of the West Street ambulance building on Thursday afternoon to answer questions from Town Council members and department heads.

A fourth candidate may be added, depending on the outcome of an interview scheduled for Tuesday, Marmer said.

Because the interview process has not been completed, Marmer said, she would not identify the finalists.

But she did say all the finalists are from the Northeast.

The town received 47 applications from people looking to become the next administrator.

Thursday's question and answer session is expected to run between 2 and 4 p.m.

While the public can attend the meeting, Marmer said the session is aimed primarily at department heads and council members.

Marmer said she hopes to have the new administrator in place before Shaffer's departure, which would allow for a transition period.

But if a replacement isn't in place by June 30, Marmer said, Finance Officer James M. Luddecke would serve in the interim.

©Journal Inquirer 2006