By Brenda Crowell

Staff Reporter

Out of 21 applications, eight candidates remain in the running for the Upton Town Manager vacancy left by the departure of Derek Brindisi.

Town Manager Search Committee Chairman Scott Van Raalten addressed the Board of Selectmen’s March 15 meeting to update the Board on the status of the winnowing-out process for the applicants.

“We sifted through 21 resumes and selected 10 individuals to receive three essay questions,” Van Raalten told the Board. “They had a week to fill out those essays and respond back. From the 10 that we had selected to receive the essays, we received eight responses, and two individuals have withdrawn.”

Van Raalten added that the Search Committee aims to narrow down the candidate field to three by the end of the month.

“Our goal is by the 31st of this month to submit three names to the Board for your consideration,” he said. “Then we are asking that you, as a board, find an appropriate time to interview those three candidates.”

Selectman Stephen Matellian was concerned about the candidates who withdrew.

“Out of the 10 that you had selected, two had dropped out. Were they interviewing in other towns?” Matellian asked Van Raalten. “Do you see this as a point in time where there are a lot of job openings and you could lose additional candidates, or do you think that the eight you have to work with is a good talent pool at this point in time?”

“I believe one was in a process (of interviewing) in a town in central Massachusetts,” Van Raalten replied, adding that he was not sure why the other candidate had dropped out.

“The pool of eight that we have remaining, we feel as though we do have some very strong candidates,” Van Raalten said. “Through some research, we did find out that a few of them are in other processes, so I would definitely urge the Board to move forward quickly after we submit the names to you.”

Brindisi has accepted the position of Town Manager in Plymouth.

The Board of Selectmen discussed appointing a Town Manager Search Committee at the Board’s meeting on February 1.

“We know you’re working very diligently and spending a lot of time on this in a very short period,” Selectman Brett Simas told Van Raalten.

Board of Selectmen Chair Maureen Dwinnell suggested Director of Public Works Dennis Westgate to take over as interim Town Manager after Brindisi leaves until a suitable candidate is hired.

“I approached Dennis Westgate and asked him if he would be interested in being an interim Town Manager, seeing as how he’s had experience at this in Webster a couple of times, rather than taking the time to go out and spend a lot of money to get an interim Town Manager in here.” Dwinnell said. “He’s willing to work for an hourly wage for the time he serves as interim Town Manager.”

Matellian expressed concern about how Westgate’s other responsibilities could be coordinated with an interim Town Manager role. Per Dwinnell, Westgate would work for an hourly wage for approximately 10-15 hours per week. The Board agreed to discuss the hiring of Westgate or another interim Town Manager at a later date.