Groveland hires its first town administrator

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Oct. 21—GROVELAND — The search for Groveland's first town administrator concluded Wednesday night when the Select Board chose current director of economic development, Rebecca Oldham, to lead the town into a new era.

Former Selectman Joseph D'Amore, chairman of the Town Administrator Search Committee, said the board was unanimous in naming Oldham to the job. She will be the first town administrator in Groveland's history.

He said the search committee had received 21 resumes for the job, selected six people to interview then narrowed the field to two finalists, one of whom withdrew. Oldham then came forward as a candidate.

A Methuen native and Central Catholic High School graduate who lives in Amesbury, Oldham has been Groveland's director of economic development since the job was created in January.

She previously served as Groveland's town planner since August of 2018, and prior to that wrote grants and managed economic development initiatives for Methuen's economic and community development department.

"It's exciting and there are so many things we can do to improve the community," she said. "I feel like I've grown into this role considering my interactions with various town departments, members of the public, and various boards and commission members."

Oldham said there are many things the town wants to accomplish, including creating a master plan.

"This kind of a plan would set a vision for the community for the next five years, and would include transportation, business, housing, open space, and the environment," she said.

The position of town administrator was posted as offering an annual salary range of $90,000 to $120,000, depending on qualifications. Oldham said she is still negotiating her salary with the town. Her current annual salary as director of economic development is $55,221.

The town operated under the supervision of the five-member, volunteer select board, but the May 24 Town Meeting authorized the board to hire a town administrator for day-to-day operations and financial matters.

D'Amore said this marked a significant evolution in Groveland's government, which has operated with a finance director since 1989.

Town Meeting also approved the dissolution of the current finance director system and allows the Select Board to reorganize municipal operations around a financial team to be led by the town administrator.

D'Amore said the town administrator will have a host of responsibilities, including serving as chief procurement officer, chief finance officer, chief compliance officer and personnel manager.

In her new role, Oldham will also prepare the annual town operating budget for the Select Board, will prepare Town Meeting articles and represent the board in negotiations, where appropriate, and advise the board and town departments on grant opportunities.

The town's last finance director, Denise Dembkoski, left her position last year to become town administrator for Stow, Massachusetts.

The town has since been functioning with the select board working in conjunction with Finance Department employees.

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