Horn to Stay on as Mendon’s Interim Town Coordinator
By Michelle Sanford Staff Reporter/Columnist · July 12, 2012
The Mendon Board of Selectmen unanimously approved the decision to have Police and Fire Chief Ernie Horn stay on as Acting Town Coordinator for at least another six months possibly up to one year. The action was approved during a June 18 meeting.
"It needs to end in one year," Horn told the Board of the interim position. "I want to be there to support the town, but at some point, it needs to end."
The Board agreed with Horn. Selectman Michael Goddard told Horn if need be, he should resign the interim position should it become too overwhelming and interfere with his duties as Police and Fire Chief.
Mendon has been without a Town Coordinator for more than a year after Dale Pleau was laid off in May 2011 for what the Board stated was due to the town's financial troubles.
In September 2011, Horn volunteered for the unpaid interim position. Some of his duties since taking over the job have included supervising all departments and committees under the jurisdiction of the Board of Selectmen; overseeing the day-to-day operations of the Town Hall; reviewing budgets for other town departments; and coordinating and preparing the warrants for the annual and special town meetings, among others.
The Board formed a Town Coordinator Role Committee whose charge is to determine what the responsibilities of a new Town Coordinator or possible Town Manager should be. The Committee is currently finalizing a job description for the Board to review.
"In the next six months, we'll have a good picture of next year's finances and then the chance of hiring a Town Coordinator," said Selectman Mike Ammendolia to Horn. "Feel free to fire me whenever," Horn joked aloud.
In other news that evening, resident Shirley Smith discussed the possibility of forming a Town Forest Committee that would oversee 120 acres of town-owned forest located at the end of Millbury Road near the Southwick's Zoo property line. The town acquired the land in 1934. Smith told the Board the area would make a "wonderful recreational and educational resource for the town." Because the area is the second highest elevation point in Worcester County, years ago townspeople would view the masts of ships coming into Boston Harbor. There was also a dance hall on the property and picnic tables.
Some of the responsibilities of the new Committee could include overseeing controlling invasive species, clearing and marking trails, applying for grants, raising public awareness, and addressing various safety issues.
Smith stated the Committee would likely consist of the three members and that she knew of several residents already interested in serving. The Board stated they liked the idea of forming the Committee and asked Smith to come up with a formal description of the group's responsibilities to discuss at a future meeting.