Ferrisbugh selectboard appoints new member

FERRISBURGH — The Ferrisburgh selectboard on Nov. 26 chose a manager of Charlotte’s Point Bay Marina to fill a vacancy on the board created by the October resignation of longtime selectman John DeVos Jr.
Steve Gutowski, 60, was the pick among a field of six candidates that selectboard Chairwoman Loretta Lawrence described as strong across the board.
“They all were great candidates, and each offered something valuable and different,” Lawrence said.
DeVos, who had served since the 1990s, announced his resignation in an Oct. 22 letter to Lawrence, citing “recent events” that made it necessary to “step back from some of his responsibilities.”
Gutowski recently completed a 12-year term on the Ferrisburgh Board of Zoning Adjustment, and has also served as the town’s representative on the Addison County Solid Waste Management District.
Lawrence said selectboard members were impressed by his civic background and his career, which blends customer service and financial management.
“He works with the public every day with his job, and the business aspect was a great factor. He just seems so professional, and he listens to both sides of every story,” Lawrence said. “He just seems like he would be a great asset to the board. It was tough. There were some great candidates.”
The others who the board interviewed and considered on Tuesday were, in alphabetical order:
•  Dennis Armell, a conservation commission member.
•  Thomas Drumheller, an elected auditor.
•  Arabella Holzapfel, who unsuccessfully challenged Lawrence in March and then was appointed by the selectboard to the planning commission in August. Holzapfel also ran unsuccessfully for the Vermont House as a Democrat in 2000 and 2012.
•  Walter Reed, a planning commission member.
•  Ralph Shepard Jr., a Ferrisburgh energy committee member.
Gutowski, whose wife, Laurie Gutowski, now sits on the Vergennes Union High School board and served many years as a Ferrisburgh Central School board director, said he plans to run for election in March when his appointment to the selectboard expires.
“I don’t think that position would have been served well by someone just filling in the gap,” he said.   
Gutowski described his decision to put his name forward for the opening as “just the next step” in serving Ferrisburgh.
“A lot of it is community service,” he said. “I’m a long-time Ferrisburgh resident and don’t plan on going anywhere soon.”
Gutowski said he believes his business background would be useful in his new role.
“There’s a lot of things people would like to see done in town … and in the end you have to have the ability to pay for them,” he said.
Gutowski said he would not bring any plans or goals to the board with him other than getting up to speed as quickly as possible and pitching in.
“There wasn’t any one particular reason or thing that is going on in the town that prompted me to throw my hat in the ring,” he said. “I certainly don’t think I have any agenda I want to push on the town.”
Selectboard members on Tuesday also discussed their next step in the process of getting more help for Town Clerk and Treasurer Chet Hawkins and Assistant Clerk and Treasurer Pam Cousino.
Hawkins, Cousino, the town’s auditors and selectboard members say they all agree more help is needed as the town, their workload, and the complexity of the treasurer’s job have all grown.
The board talked with Hawkins at its Nov. 19 meeting and agreed to pull its ad for a new town treasurer and reevaluate whether the board should hire a full-time treasurer, as had been its initial plan.
Hawkins and at least one resident suggested at that meeting that instead Hawkins should hire an assistant treasurer, possibly for fewer hours, because Hawkins could retain the power to fire the employee if he or she did not work out.
At the end of that Nov. 19 discussion, selectboard members agreed they had to step back and reconsider the position and their options, and Lawrence said they will do so at their Dec. 3 meeting.
There, Lawrence said, the board, the town’s auditors and Hawkins will sit down and “see how we’re going to move forward.”
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at [email protected].

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