New town administrator takes oath of office
Town Councilors opened their meeting Monday with festive flourishes to mark the official introduction and swearing-in of new Town Administrator Bruce Keiser of South Kingstown. A brief reception, featuring coffee and pastries from Slice of Heaven, followed.
Before Keiser was welcomed, the councilors and state Representative Bruce Long (RJamestown, Middletown) praised three town employees, Arlene Petit, Thomas Tighe, and William Donovan, for “splendid service.”
Petit was declared Town Clerk of the Year some weeks ago by state land surveyors. Tighe was recognized for top service as interim town administrator twice within the past 18 months. Donovan was commended for taking over for Tighe as police chief while Tighe was acting administrator.
Long presented Petit with a certificate saying, “You do great work. You and your staff and the entire town do great. I like the way Jamestown does it.” The certificate from the state House of Representatives cited Petit and all town employees here for “duty, honesty, integrity and dedication.” Petit previously had declined any praise not including the work of her staff, and all town workers who contribute to the smooth operation of town offices.
Council President David Long commended Tighe for stepping in twice to run the town and “running it very smoothly.” He praised Donovan for his operation of the police department, and for the extent he went to serve the town with such groups as the Wildlife Committee, which later in the meeting cited the professionalism of Donovan’s contributions to its work.
Council Vice President Julio DiGiando said it was a “distinct pleasure” to work with Tighe, “who had only the best interests of the town” as his goal. Councilman William Kelly described Tighe as being “helpful and giving guidance, especially to new council members” who took their seats when Tighe started his second six-month stint as interim administrator.
Councilor Barbara Szepatowski said Tighe “made my life easy as a new council member. You helped me with humor, and sometimes setting me straight.” Councilman Michael Schnack agreed, saying Tighe was “due a big thank-you.”
The council’s proclamation stated that Tighe “ensured the town continually managed to protect the health and safety of the people, with a commitment to duty and to the citizens, with leadership and professionalism, being dependable and reliable without compromise or concern.” The proclamation urged all residents “to join in recognizing” Tighe’s service.
Tighe responded that he really appreciated the fuss being made over him. He said he thanked the townspeople, as well as the councilors for twice asking him “to work for you. You were great. I appreciate working for all of you.”
Rep. Long, who is house minority whip, said that state Senator Teresa Paiva Weed (D-Jamestown, Newport), who is the senate majority leader, had intended to participate in the ceremonies in Jamestown but was called away on other legislative business. “We recognize the outstanding contributions and guidance given day to day by Tighe and his always being there when needed,” Long said.
Then Keiser was sworn to “give true and faithful service to laws of the state, the constitution of the United States and the charter of the town.”
The councilors and Keiser acknowledged the work of the Town Administrator search committee, which evaluated 50 applications before selecting Keiser. The council and Keiser exchanged hopes that the term would be more than the six months given by his predecessor Mark Haddad, who left abruptly for a job in the private sector.
Keiser, coming from a long run as assistant administrator in South Kingstown, said that he recognized a professional staff in his previous job and sees it here. Coming to work with such a good staff was “like wearing old shoes. I feel comfortable here,” he said.
When the reception was over, Keiser noted that “the fun part of the job for the night was done.” Council President Long replied, “It is just beginning.”
Keiser gave oral reports on several topics, promising to have written summaries at future meetings. He officially began working the previous week, and had done several tasks since being appointed in midDecember.
Responding to a suggestion last week by Councilman Michael Schnack, the new administrator reported that the town is eligible for a cash benefit to sign up for an electrical “load curtailment” program under which it could voluntarily move town facilities such as the water and sewer treatment plants onto generators during high-load periods. There are no penalties or disadvantages to the program, including the town’s retaining the option to not use generators if circumstances require it, he said. The town will also review other energysavings options, Keiser said. Council President Long thanked Schnack for bringing information about that program to the attention of the town.
Also in response to a council request from last week, Keiser reported that he consulted with the state Department of Transportation about co-ordinating road work in the village this summer so that Narragansett Avenue will be paved twice in a very short period. The DOT was prepared to do the work on its schedule regardless of the timing of waterline installation, for which the town is seeking new bids.
Keiser reported that the DOT advised him that up to $25 million in federal funds were not forthcoming for some state road projects, and the impact of the funding shortfall on Jamestown is not yet known.