Paris Selectmen seek new town manager – again

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PARIS — Selectmen hope that the third time is the charm in their search for a new town manager, as their top candidate accepted the job and then rescinded his acceptance a week before starting work in Paris.

“I am very sad to let you guys know we do not have a town manager candidate that is going to be starting any time soon,” Selectman Robert Wessels told the audience of 10 people gathered at the board meeting Monday, June 13.

He added a candidate accepted the top position and was supposed to start work Monday. Interim Town Manager Sawin Millett confirmed earlier Monday he was supposed to show the new town manager the ropes for the duration of this week, but no longer had to do so because the candidate unaccepted the job.

Selectmen and Millett discovered Thursday, June 9, that the board’s top pick would not take over the reins and board members held an executive session Sunday to discuss their next move.

“Obviously with Sawin getting to the fields we do need to find an interim town manager in the short term,” Wessels said at Monday’s meeting. Millett agreed to stay on through annual town meeting, which is set for Saturday, June 18, before returning to retirement and his Waterford farm.

“We reopened the search again and we are interviewing an interim candidate at this point,” Selectmen Chairman Mike Risica said before Monday’s board meeting.

Also before Monday’s meeting, Millett explained what happened with the town manager situation.

“The board had made an offer to a candidate from Virginia, who had visited Paris, toured the community, met with the interim town manager and staff and we were all optimistic he would be the next town manager as late as Thursday,” Millett said.

The candidate told the board and Millett that he and his wife had given their notices at their respective jobs and then there was a new development.

“[The candidate’s wife] was offered an advancement in her field to the extent that it was a career improvement that she couldn’t turn down so as a family they made the decision that it just wasn’t going to work,” Millett said.

The search for a new town manager began in December 2015 when former Town Manager Amy Bernard bid Paris adieu to become Newry’s town administrator. That same month, selectmen hired Millett, a longtime politician and former educator, to serve during the transition.

Selectmen had gone through a first round of candidate interviews with three finalists. Unsatisfied with their choices, they decided to solicit a second round of candidates, which they narrowed down to six – including Selectman Vic Hodgkins – and began interviews in early May. Hodgkins recused himself from the process as soon as he thought he would toss his hat into the ring.

A total of 47 people applied for the town’s top spot, including plenty of Mainers and candidates hailing as far away as Oregon.

But now, selectmen will begin their search for a new town manager for the third time.

“We will go to Plan C, I guess it is,” Wessels said Monday night to laughter from the audience.

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