NEWPORT — Newport selectmen have given interim Town Manager Evelyn Ricker direction to begin the search for a new town manager.
Ricker stepped in to take over town affairs when Town Manager Arthur Ellingwood, 60, became ill last April. Ellingwood’s illness has progressed to the point, Ricker said Monday, “that it would take a miracle for him to be able to return to work.”
Ellingwood is hospitalized at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, where he underwent a brain biopsy two weeks ago. Ellingwood’s motor skills and memory have been deteriorating since April, and he officially went out on sick leave on Sept. 3.
Ricker said Ellingwood’s doctors have been unable to make a diagnosis. He has been placed on experimental medications, which are not working, she said.
“Whatever he has,” Ricker said, “the doctors are saying it’s not in any medical book.”
Ellingwood will be missed, she said. Since his tenure, Ellingwood has brought a stability to Newport that previously was missing.
“He has been an excellent town manager,” said Ricker, who has worked with the past four Newport managers.
She said no date has been set for applications or an interview process. “The selectmen just want me to begin finding out what we need to do and where we need to advertise,” she said.
The search will be discussed at the selectmen’s Wednesday night meeting, Ricker said.
Also on the agenda for Wednesday is the town report dedication, and Ricker said she will nominate Ellingwood for that honor. “I think it would be very appropriate,” she said.
Selectmen also will vote Wednesday on placing an article before the voters at their March 7 annual town meeting to borrow up to $378,250 as Newport’s share toward creation of an industrial park.
“We wouldn’t be committing the town with this,” Ricker said, “just voting to begin the grant application process.” The economic development grant would be available in April.
The proposed industrial park, which has taken nearly a decade to become reality, would be located just east of town on Route 2, about two miles from the downtown area. The proposed site covers about 31 acres.
In other business Wednesday, selectmen will vote on applications by Susan Fraser of Fraser’s on Water Street for new liquor and victualer’s licenses, and an application for a junkyard permit from Robert Long of Newport Metals on Route 2.