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BELLOWS FALLS — The search for a new manager for the town of Rockingham and the village of Bellows Falls is down to two male finalists.

The two candidates were in town last Friday, taking a tour of the town and village, meeting with town and village employees, and meeting individually with Rockingham Select Board Chairman Gaetano Putignano and Bellows Falls Village President Deborah Wright.

Putignano and Wright said they took the two candidates out to lunch - separately - and discussed the issues facing the town and village.

"We have two very well qualified candidates," Putignano said on Wednesday. "It's exciting, we're getting close."

"We're moving forward," Putignano said. "Some of it is confidential, and it's not appropriate to comment," he said.

He said the visit "was mostly to meet the staff and see how things operate."

"Gaetano and I had a full day with the candidates," said Wright, adding that the two finalists met with the Select Board and Village Board of Trustees on Friday.

He said the town and village have done the visits during the last two manager selections.

The two boards received 29 applications for the manager's position, and Wright said the two finalists were "both gentlemen." She said that the female candidates for the position "were not sufficiently qualified," and didn't have municipal manager experience.

Wright said the two finalists have a lot of experience in financial management, which was a top priority for the two boards.

Wright said the town and village had hired a firm, which she would not identify, to do final background and reference checks on the two candidates.

The two boards met behind closed doors Tuesday evening to discuss the status of the process. The two boards have had several closed-door sessions in the past month to review the various resumes submitted by the candidates.

Unlike in 2018, the boards did not employ the Vermont League of Cities and Towns to do the screening of the candidates.

Wright said the firm that is doing final background checks was recommended by the Vermont League of Cities and Towns, which is helping the town and village with the search process, but not as much as in previous years.

Neither Wright nor Putignano would commit to when the new manager would be on board. Putignano said there are two boards making the decision, and then a contract would have to be written.

Zoning administrator Charles "Chuck" Wise has been interim manager since the departure of former Manager Wendy Harrison, and he has said he was not interested in the full-time position. Harrison left in May after the two boards failed to renew her contract; she had been manager since July 2018. Harrison is now working as the interim executive director of the New England Center for Circus Arts in Brattleboro, where she lives.

Contact Susan Smallheer at ssmallheer@reformer.com.


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