Thomas Hutcheson

Tom Hutcheson

DALTON — Dalton officials went with experience Monday in selecting a sitting town administrator as the community’s third town manager.

Members of the Select Board voted unanimously to offer the top job in Town Hall to Thomas Hutcheson, the current administrator in the Franklin County town of Conway, pending a check of his references and the outcome of salary negotiations.

Though member John Boyle expressed a desire to review all three finalists, a special board session Monday began with a motion from member Marc Strout to offer Hutcheson the post. The job became open in August with the retirement of Kenneth Walto, Dalton’s manager for the past two decades.

“I would have thought we’d have a discussion and then vote,” Boyle said. “I just think it’s a poor way to do it.”

Board members said they preferred Hutcheson over the other two finalists because he has held the top job in a town, albeit a smaller one.

“There is only one candidate that has actual town manager experience,” said member Daniel Esko. “He’s been a town administrator with an executive role for some years now. The other candidates didn’t have that.”

The other finalists were Susan Carmel, of Pittsfield, finance director for the town of Great Barrington, and David Flaherty, of Westfield, an at-large member of the Westfield City Council and president of the DFA Group LLC, an information technology business.

“I think it’s a clear decision of looking for someone with town manager experience,” said member Joe Diver.

Robert W. Bishop Jr., the board’s chairman, said he was impressed by Hutcheson’s performance during an online public interview Jan. 21.

“He answered the questions very thoroughly, I thought,” Bishop said.

The finalists were recommended by a search committee made up of Steve Sears, its chairman; John Kelly; Louisa Horth; Jeffrey Noble; and Sandra Albano, the town accountant who has been serving as interim town manager.

The pay range for the job is $100,000 to $125,000 a year. Walto was making $114,815 a year when he retired.

Larry Parnass can be reached at and 413-588-8341.

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Larry Parnass joined The Eagle in 2016 from the Daily Hampshire Gazette, where he was editor in chief. His freelance work has appeared in the Washington Post, Boston Globe, Hartford Courant, CommonWealth Magazine and with the Reuters news service.