Brandon town manager resigns
BRANDON — Brandon Town Manager Keith Arlund’s resignation, effective this weekend, is a surprising and sudden move that has left the selectboard in shock.
Arlund submitted a letter of resignation during the board’s executive session during a March 11 meeting.
“As you know, this is a difficult letter to write,” Arlund wrote. “I have worked extremely hard for over nine years to manage the town, its personnel and our many missions with the resources available. While always difficult, it has been a challenging and rewarding position for me.”
Arlund is leaving the town’s employ for a job in the private sector and wrote that he feels “it is time for me to make this change.”
Arlund declined to discuss the new job in detail with the press.
“I’m not ready to talk about it yet,” he said on March 12. “It’s a private matter right now. When I’m ready to speak about it, I’ll speak about it.”
The move comes at a critical moment for Brandon, which is poised to undergo a long-delayed, major reconstruction of Route 7 and Bridge 114 through the downtown starting next year, which will affect every downtown business and the flow of traffic through two construction seasons. As a precursor to the Route 7 project, a necessary water line upgrade will take place in the downtown this spring, with the work scheduled to last through the summer.
Then there is the continued work on renovation plans for the town offices and the downtown parks, still in disrepair 18 months after a devastating flood brought by Tropical Storm Irene in August 2011.
And that’s all on top of regular town business that the town manager oversees, including supervising all town employees, public works, roads and bridges, economic development, grant writing, budgeting and more.
After an executive session on March 11, Brandon selectboard Vice-Chair Ethan Swift said the board was reeling a bit.
“I think surprise is the big thing that comes to mind right now,” he said. “And how much he’s had to deal with over the last few years. He’s been wearing many hats.”
Swift cited “personnel challenges” as a factor, including a months-long stretch following the abrupt resignation of Public Works Superintendent Tom Schmelzenbach following his arrest for drunken driving in 2010.
“This was not at all anticipated,” Selectman Richard Baker said of Arlund’s resignation.
Arlund, a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and retired U.S. Army colonel who has a law degree from Vermont Law School, holds the post of judge advocate for the Vermont American Legion, meaning he is the legal adviser for the Legion statewide.
Arlund has had his critics over the years, many of whom were quite vocal after Irene, when Arlund was in Minneapolis at the American Legion National Convention. The town manger was blasted by a number of residents for not ending his trip early to return to Brandon to help with the flood recovery. Opponents have also been critical of the delay in repairing the town offices and the downtown parks and point a finger at Arlund, although the red tape involved with the Federal Emergency Management Agency as well as the Vermont Agency of Transportation accounts for a large part of the delay.
Arlund started work as Brandon’s town manager in February 2004, succeeded Mike Baltz. In his letter of resignation, Arlund gave his two weeks’ notice, which would make his last day this Sunday, March 24, unless “other arrangements” are made. Swift said the board expressed a desire to have Arlund stay on through the transition period in hiring a new town manager and bringing that person up to speed.
“We would like to work with him to have him help us through this transition period and work with us beyond the 24th,” Swift said.
The vice chair, who ran last Monday’s meeting in the absence of board chair Devon Fuller, also said the selectboard knows all too well the contribution Arlund has made to the town.
“We just all have to acknowledge how much work Keith does behind the scenes,” he said. “It goes without saying that he will be sorely missed.”
And Arlund wrote that he’s not going too far.
“I appreciate the opportunity to have served the Town of Brandon,” he wrote. “It is a town that I love and it will continue to be my home.”
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