CHESHIRE — Winners of next month's special election will participate in the hiring process for the town's new highway superintendent.
The current three-person Select Board on Tuesday agreed to wait for the two newest members before reviewing applications, conducting interviews and choosing a successor to Blair Crane, who announced last week that he is resigning effective Aug. 2, after two years on the job.
The majority of the board didn't hesitate at its weekly meeting in hiring Carole Hilderbrand as the Council on Aging's new coordinator. Town officials hope Hilderbrand, the Select Board's part-time administrative assistant, can help better promote COA services and senior center activities to the community's elderly residents.
Since Town Administrator Ed St. John IV and the three selectmen are developing a job description for the road boss position and an interim superintendent is in the works, the board felt it could afford to briefly put on hold hiring Crane's permanent replacement.
"Being as we're close to the election, the new members should be involved," said Selectman Jason Levesque.
On Aug. 13, voters will choose between Donna DeFino and Michelle Francesconi for the full, three-year term up for grabs. Ronald DeAngelis, Michael "Mickey" Biagini Jr. and E. Richard Scholz are vying for the two-year term listed on the ballot.
Two current selectmen said Tuesday they want a well-rounded highway superintendent.
"I'm looking for someone who will be out with the guys, setting an example," said Mark Biagini. "I don't want someone just doing the paperwork."
Chairman Robert Ciskowski is leaning toward a road boss who is hands on, working side by side with the laborers when necessary.
"I want [the person] out in the field to be a supervisor who has the licenses and skills to lead, not just one of the guys," he said.
Ciskowski and Biagini did agree that the superintendent should help the town conduct long-range planning for the town's road repairs and upgrades.
Meanwhile, St. John is expected to recommend that the board hire an interim superintendent from within the Highway Department. He says the current foreman could handle the job. The board is expected to consider St. John's recommendation at next week's meeting.
"For continuity sake, we shouldn't go outside [the department]," Levesque said of hiring an interim.
Levesque and Ciskowski were the selectmen who decided against waiting for the five-person board in order to pick the Council on Aging coordinator. Annual town meeting voters in June agreed to create the position funded through the fiscal 2020 municipal budget.
Biagini abstained from voting. He was adamant that the two new members also have a say in filling the position. The part-time job attracted 15 applicants, six interviewed by a three-person selection committee, according to St. John.
COA board Chairman Gene Gebarowski said Hilderbrand should start right away. He told the board that Hilderbrand has been an integral part of the senior center as a volunteer and that she clearly was the top choice.
"We were fortunate to have a good number of qualified candidates, [and] Carole stood out head and shoulders [above the rest]," he said.
Hilderbrand will work 19 hours a week as the COA coordinator, earning about $21,000 a year. She will keep serving eight hours a week as the board's administrative assistant.
Dick Lindsay can be reached at email@example.com and 413-496-6233.