Saturday January 5, 2013

WINCHESTER, N.H. -- When she submitted her letter of resignation to the Board of Selectmen last month, Town Administrator Joan Morel planned to leave her job in February.

But after accepting her resignation at one of their meetings, the selectmen asked her to push her retirement back to Tuesday, March 12, and it seems the people Winchester will get to keep Morel for about a month longer than expected. But Morel said she is fine with it, as she enjoys serving the town.

"I really do love the job and I love the staff I work with," she said in a telephone interview Thursday. "It was a struggle to try to think about this."

Morel said her resignation will mark the fifth time in eight years the position of town administrator has been up for grabs. She said a few of her predecessors have had to leave for personal reasons.

She said the job opening has been posted in the town hall and Selectman Gustave Ruth said all town employees had until Thursday afternoon to submit their names for the positions and the board will review the applications over the next few weeks. Morel said the selectmen will advertise the position in a newspaper if they do not give it to a town employee.

She said she is at retirement age and feels it is time to step down as town administrator. She said she would like to keep working to some degree, but is not yet sure the capacity.

"I still want to be out and about and have my hand in something," she told the Reformer. "I’m not going to go home and just put my feet up."

The town administrator acts as the chief administrative officer for the Board of Selectmen and reports to the board. Whoever serves in the position is responsible for the management and coordination of the board’s administrative activities and other departments under its control.

The major duties include supervising town employees and providing administrative direction and general supervision to department heads, receiving and investigating citizen complaints, monitoring federal and state funding for municipal programs and carrying out the board’s orders and policies in accordance with all laws and town rules, regulations, ordinances, policies and procedures.

Morel took over as town administrator on Oct. 1, 2010, when she replaced Robert Gray, who moved with his wife to the western part of the United States. Prior to that she served as the community development coordinator in Hinsdale (where she lives) for about seven years.

"I love working in small town government," she said. "I leave with regret, actually. But I can’t work full-time anymore."

Ruth said the Board of Selectmen is looking for someone who can handle the various tasks that come with the job of town administrator.

"I think (Morel) does an excellent job," he said.

Domenic Poli can be reached at dpoli@reformer.com, or 802-254-2311, ext. 277.