2013-06-20 / News

Residents needed for search committee

Bruce Keiser says he will retire by October
By Margo Sullivan

The Town Council is seeking residents to serve on the search committee for a new town administrator to replace Bruce Keiser.

Keiser on May 20 announced his plans to leave the post by October.

On Monday night, the councilors said they are about to start the search for his replacement and plan to appoint a committee.

Councilor Mary Meagher said the councilors have discussed the process during closed-door executive session and have heard advice from Keiser and Town Solicitor Peter Ruggiero.

She did not specify the panel’s role, but typically a search committee would be charged with reviewing applications, screening candidates and conducting interviews. Meagher said she anticipates two councilors and at least five residents to be appointed.

Council President Kristine Trocki said many residents have expressed interest in serving on a search committee. Plus, the councilors all have candidates in mind. However, Trocki wants everyone to have a chance to participate.

“I think we should have a formal process,” she said. “I would like to see a very fair and open process.”

Trocki suggested anyone interested in serving on the search committee should submit a letter by July 1. The letter should include some background information to help the councilors assess qualifications.

The Town Council plans to select the committee members at its July 15 meeting.

Councilor Thomas Tighe said the search committee should have at least five members.

“We shouldn’t be any less than five and no more than nine,” he said.

Trocki indicated she also had a number between seven and nine in mind for the search committee, and that total would include the two councilors.

Meagher said she has already received some letters from people who want to be on the search committee.

She wanted to know where councilors should forward those letters.

Ruggiero said all letters of interest should go to Town Clerk Cheryl Fernstrom’s office.

Jerry Scott, president of the Taxpayers Association of Jamestown, sent a letter to the council asking for a representative on the search committee. Scott nominated Fritz Attaway, a longtime summer resident who has recently retired here.

Attaway is an attorney who represented the Motion Picture Association of America. He is an expert on copyright law and has experience with public policy, Scott indicated.

Meagher said people who want to be considered for the town administrator’s job should also write to the councilors and let them know about their interest.

In other business, the councilors discussed a letter from resident Julie Janson about the threat Lyme disease poses to the island. She discussed holding a public hearing about the issues.

Janson asked to meet with councilors to form a strategy to educate the public and “thin the deer population or set up rub stations.”

Rub stations are feeding posts constructed so the deer rubs up against an application of pesticide that kills the ticks.

“If our community understands the controversy, then perhaps we can be more successful in addressing the Lyme infestation in Jamestown,” she wrote in the letter.

Janson suggested real-estate prices could fall if the disease is not controlled.

“I have heard people in the know refer to Jamestown as Lyme central,” she wrote. “I don’t know if in fact this is true, but it’s becoming a growing perception.”

Commenting on the letter, Keiser said Lyme disease is carried by ticks, which infest deer and mice. Expert opinion suggests that Jamestown’s deer population, estimated at 400, would have to be culled to about 100 to remove the Lyme.

However, the methods are controversial. Keiser said the issue pits “a select group of people” who have fallen ill to the disease against the general population that would be impacted by an expansion of hunting on the island.

Keiser said a public hearing would serve a useful purpose and would inform people about the issues.

“The keys are self-protection and education,” he said.

Trocki said she had some concerns about using rub stations due to the chemicals in pesticides. Keiser said the rub stations would be expensive compared to hunting and killing the deer.

The councilors agreed to schedule a future public hearing to discuss the problem.

In her letter, Janson had suggested contacting Tom Mather of the University of Rhode Island to help educate people about the risks. Keiser indicated Mather is a recognized expert and supported inviting him to the public hearing.

Finally, the councilors have accepted a $1,500 gift from the Chamber of Commerce for improvements to the pavilion at Fort Getty. The chamber collected the funds at its annual fundraiser in 2012, according to the letter from Executive Director John McCauley.

Trocki said the town has already sent a letter of thanks but would provide the chamber members with specifics on how their money was being used.

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