NOTE: This story has been updated with comments from additional Dalton officials.

DALTON — One of the region’s longest-serving government officials will return to private life.

At the end of an otherwise routine report to the Dalton Select Board, Town Manager Kenneth E. Walto said he will retire Aug. 13.

“I’ll go to my happy hunting grounds. And that’s it for my updates,” Walto told officials Monday.

Walto, 67, is Dalton’s second town manager, after a shift in governance in 1995. He was hired in April 2001 to replace David "Smokey" Rickerd, according to The Eagle’s archives, after working in Pittsfield’s Department of Community Development.

The announcement caught board members by surprise. They just had wrapped up a conversation about replacing former Police Chief Jeffrey E. Coe, who accepted a financial settlement in June to end eight years in the post. The board now must move to replace Walto.

“I think I’m stunned at this moment,” said Robert W. Bishop Jr., the panel’s chairman.

Walto offered no other comment on his plans at the board meeting, which was being shared through videoconference and on Dalton Community TV, as Walto sat in a meeting room in Town Hall.

Bishop said Thursday that no one was aware in Town Hall that Walto planned to retire. "None of us had a clue," he said.

Walto said he expects to work through the first half of August, taking accumulated vacation days in pay rather than time. He said he's had employees scoot out early. "I don't want to do it to my employer," he said.

The board could not discuss next steps at its meeting this past Monday, since the issue of replacing the town manager was not on the agenda.

Bishop said he expects the board will try to hire an interim manager before Walto leaves, then assemble a search committee for a full-time replacement. The panel next meets July 27.

"We need somebody to come in here and take the reins for a little bit," he said.

Larry Parnass can be reached at, at @larryparnass on Twitter and 413-588-8341.