Fernstrom takes on town clerk role
Cheryl Fernstrom began her duties as town clerk this past Monday, replacing Arlene Petit, who recently retired after holding the position for 12 years.
“It’s sad to say goodbye,” Fernstrom said of the town clerk job she has held in Exeter for the past 18 years. “But I needed to make a change.”
It’ll be a change, yes – but the island environment isn’t entirely new to Fernstrom, she said.
She grew up mainly in Warwick, but her father’s family is from Block Island, where she spent summers and where her parents eventually retired.
“The seaside community atmosphere is very special to me,” she said. “My husband isn’t fond of Block Island, but he loves Jamestown.”
Fernstrom said she loves to shop, so she’s looking forward to exploring and visiting island merchants. She also likes to read, and is an avid walker and birdwatcher.
Her family includes her husband, Kenneth, three grown sons and one stepson, she said. They live on the eastern end of Exeter, she said, making the commute to Jamestown about 20 minutes for her.
“It’s actually only about five minutes longer” than her commute to Exeter’s town hall, she said.
Fernstrom said she’s most looking forward to learning new things and mastering new technologies in her Jamestown role. She’s also looking forward to working with a town administrator model of government, she said.
“When I came in as town clerk in Exeter, I had no town clerk experience,” she said. “But I’m looking forward to the change and to new challenges.”
One such challenge, she said, may be replacing a popular town clerk.
“I went to Arlene’s retirement party,” Fernstrom said. “She’s so well-loved in town. She’s a tough act to follow.”