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Joyce Endee

Meredith hires new town manager

Meredith’s newly hired town manager Phillip Warren Jr., left, speaks with selectman Miller Lovett after the board unanimously approved him as the new town manager. Erin Plummer. (click for larger version)
August 27, 2009
MEREDITH — After 10 months without a town manager and more than five months of searching for a new one, the Meredith Board of Selectmen has hired Phillip L. Warren Jr.

"This is a culmination of a five to six month period of diligent effort to have a new town manager," said board chair Peter Brothers. "We had an awful lot of people involved in the process."

Former Town Manager Carol Granfield announced her retirement in October of 2008. Since then administrative service director Brenda Vittner and community development director John Edgar have been serving jointly as interim town managers.

Shortly after the end of the 2009 budget process, a Town Manager Search Committee was formed consisting of Vittner and Edgar, selectmen's representatives Brothers and Chuck Palm, and Meredith residents Jeanie Forrester, Bev Lapham, Justin Van Etten, Ken Colburn, and Dave Thorpe as citizen members.

Brothers said the town received more than 70 applications for the position and the town went through a specific process to choose the new town manager.

According to a statement from the town, the search committee unanimously recommended Warren after the five-month process.

Warren has served as the town manager of Abington, Mass., since 2004 and was previously the town administrator of Holbrook, Mass., from 2000 through 2004. He interned for and assisted the town manager of Norton, Mass., from 1996 through 1998 and served as that town's tax collector/treasurer from 1998 through 2000.

He has a Bachelor of Science degree in Political Science from Bridgewater State College and a Masters in Public Administration from Suffolk University. In 1996 he also attended Oxford University during the summer as part of the Bridgewater at Oxford program.

Brothers said the committee and the selectmen felt that Warren had "important qualifications" to serve as town manager of Meredith.

"We look forward to having him take his experience and expertise working with Meredith for the benefit of going forward," Brothers said.

While Warren is a long-time resident of Norton, Mass., he has also owned a home in Conway for the past eight years.

Warren said he was not formally looking for another town manager position but learned of the opening in Meredith. He said he spoke to other town managers about the hiring process and learned he was going through a more rigorous process.

"They (other town managers) did not go through a process where you were made at every step to feel welcome," Warren said. "It's a credit to your community that your committee performed that service."

Warren was formally introduced to town employees during a staff meeting on Monday.

"Phil is the type of manager that has a tendency to wander into different departments," Brothers said.

Warren will officially take over as town manager on Sept. 8. Brothers said there will be a formal meet and greet with town volunteers around Warren's second week, followed around a week after with an informal meeting with members of the public likely in an open-house style gathering.

The selectmen unanimously voted in favor of hiring Warren as town manager followed by another unanimous vote to execute an employment agreement for three years at a salary of $98,000 a year.

"This is a good day for everybody and I'm looking for many years of service and working together for the town of Meredith and the Lakes Region area," Brothers said.

"I'm thrilled to be here," Warren said. "I know the list is long and deep. I can't wait to get started on that. My door is open and you'll probably see me more in the community than you'll see me in my office.

Brothers said bringing Vittner and Edgar to the position on an interim basis was "a wise decision" and their services and knowledge especially helped during the difficult budget process. The interim managers and the selectmen used their resources to bring "more consensus" to town business, he said.

Resident Jim Hughes said Vittner and Edgar should have printed letters of commendation from the board in their files as well as a free week of vacation to take sometime this year.

"It's too often as time goes by we forget what they have done," Hughes said. "I think that is well over and above the call of duty in spite of any extra compensation they've been given."

Brothers said he assumed the board would give Vittner and Edgar letters of commendation for their service.

Colburn also commended Brothers and Palm for their work on the committee as well as the other members of the board who attended the meetings and took an interest in the process.

"We're very fortunate as a committee that there was a complete buying in by the board," Colburn said.

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