Entering Dalton Sign

Three candidates will compete to become Dalton’s next police chief, including a 23-year member of the force, Sgt. Deanna Strout.

DALTON — In coming weeks, the names of candidates for two of Dalton’s most visible public jobs will be revealed.

Search committees are expected to identify finalists for the jobs of police chief and town manager.

On Wednesday night, the Select Board will consider a request from the volunteer panel recruiting town manager candidates to allow the person chosen to replace Kenneth Walto to be allowed to live outside Dalton.

Meantime, another panel plans to interview five candidates for police chief in sessions Jan. 12 and Jan. 13. That field has been winnowed from 24 applications to succeed former Chief Jeffrey E. Coe, who left the job last summer, after his performance was questioned by some town officials; Coe pocketed about a year’s salary in return.

Joe Diver, the Select Board member who chairs the chief-search effort, said he expects the field to be narrowed to four after the interviews. Each of the candidates will undergo an assessment program overseen by a consultant the town hired. After that, members of several ad hoc groups will meet the candidates.

By mid-February, Diver said, the names of three finalists will be made public, as state law requires, as their candidacies go to the Select Board. 

Given the coronavirus pandemic, the public might or might not have a chance to see the police chief finalists in person. 

“If we can do that in a very safe environment, we’ll consider it,” Diver said of a public session. “I think that’s an extremely important step in the process.”

All five police chief candidates are from New England. For the past half-year, the post has been held on an interim basis by Anthony J. Riello, a former Pittsfield chief. Diver said Riello is willing to remain in the temporary job until a successor is found.

The annual pay range for the chief's job is $100,000 to $125,000. Walto was making $114,815 a year when he retired after two decades in the job.

Robert Bishop Jr., chair of the Select Board, said he and colleagues will meet by videoconference at 7 p.m. Wednesday to consider whether to waive the residency requirement for town manager, which is stated in a town bylaw.

Bishop said more than a dozen candidates have been considered so far for the manager’s job. No finalists have been identified. Sandra Albano has served as interim manager since Walto's departure in August. 

The town manager search panel is led by Steve Sears and includes Albano, John Kelly, Louisa Horth and Jeffrey Noble. The chief search committee, led by Diver, includes Andrew Perenick, Amy Aldridge, Michael Hinkley and Geoffrey Powell, a Dalton Police sergeant.

Larry Parnass can be reached at lparnass@berkshireeagle.com 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.