ROCKPORT – An Islesboro man with a background in educational management was hired by selectmen as interim town manager on Friday.
Ken Smith will work three days a week until a permanent town manager can be hired, Peter Hall, chairman of the Board of Selectmen, said Sunday.
Don Willard, town manager for 14 years, resigned effective Nov. 17. Since that time, no one in the town office had been designated as being in charge. Privately, several town office employees complained about the vacuum.
State law prohibits selectmen from supervising town employees, requiring a manager or acting manager.
A town clerk often will be named acting town manager in the wake of a resignation. Some town employees have said they were surprised selectmen did not name Town Clerk Linda Greenlaw to the interim post.
Hall explained that the search for an interim manager took longer than he expected. Hall was away for a week around the Thanksgiving holiday, and selectmen were busy meeting with Maine Municipal Association representatives to get the search for a permanent manager under way.
Hall said Greenlaw was too busy with her clerk duties and with the added work that has come with the vacancy of the assessor’s position.
“She’s good,” Hall said of Greenlaw, “but no one’s that good. You can’t be in two places at the same time.”
The town is in the midst of finishing up a sewer and water extension project and is planning construction of a pedestrian and bicycle pathway, Hall said, making it difficult for someone with a full-time job in the town office to take over the manager’s post.
The interim manager job was not advertised. Selectmen asked for recommendations for candidates from several sources, including former manager Willard. Hall said a half-dozen names were suggested.
Smith was recommended because of his work as a transition coordinator with the Five Town Community School District, which includes Rockport.
Smith has been doing educational consulting work most recently, Hall said. Earlier in his career, Smith had been a superintendent of schools in New Hampshire.
“He seemed a real good fit,” Hall said, describing Smith as even-tempered and a good listener.
Smith will commute to Rockport on the state ferry from Islesboro. He will be paid $300 per day. Though the agreement calls for him to work three days a week, Smith is willing to work an additional day each week if needed, Hall said.