VERNON - Windham County Sheriff Keith Clark was named Vernon's interim police chief Tuesday.

Clark is expected to fill in temporarily for Chief Mary Beth Hebert, who is out on medical leave. And he said his service in Vernon will not interfere with his full-time job as sheriff.

"I just feel as though I can, in the very short term, manage this in a way that benefits the Town of Vernon and the police department," Clark said. Vernon Selectboard on Monday had appointed Richard Guthrie, a longtime local police officer who served a stint as Brattleboro's chief, to run the town's department during Hebert's absence.

But officials learned on Tuesday that Guthrie, in order to serve as chief, likely would need to attend a state training session that was not available until December.

"So that wasn't going to help us," said Patty O'Donnell, Vernon Selectboard chairwoman.

So the board contacted Clark Tuesday afternoon and convened an emergency meeting that night. O'Donnell said the board had legal authority to conduct such a session to address the chief appointment.

"The statutes do provide for an emergency meeting," O'Donnell said. "We felt we really needed to get someone in there."

Clark will be paid on an hourly basis. O'Donnell said details of his contract still are being finalized.

Clark, who is in his sixth year as sheriff and formerly served as Bellows Falls police chief, said his job is to "provide some management and administrative oversight" in Vernon.

"I'm not going to be in the Town of Vernon 40 hours a week," he said.


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Mike Faher can be reached at mfaher@reformer.com or 802-254-2311, ext. 275.