Bristol lauds its departing town administrator

BRISTOL — Bristol Town Administrator Therese Kirby will not be renewing her contract when it runs out at the end of the fiscal year. Instead, Kirby, informed the selectboard late last month, she and her husband would be moving to Brookfield to be closer to friends and family and build a home there.
“Bristol is a wonderful place to raise a family. My husband and I have raised three children here in our 23 years as Bristol residents. It is a great town with an amazing sense of community, and is filled with some of the best people I have ever known,” said Kirby, 50. “It has been an honor and a privilege serving the residents, and one that I have tried never to take for granted.
“When I leave Bristol, I will leave a piece of my heart here, but I think that’s a good thing — it means I really cared.”
Kirby plans to start her own business doing title services for mortgage companies, attorneys, engineers and surveyors: East Hill Title Services LLC.
Apparently, Kirby will be missed in Bristol: When former selectboard chairwoman Michelle Perlee announced Kirby’s pending resignation at town meeting, the entire assembly rose spontaneously to its feet for a standing ovation.
Bristol’s new selectboard chairman, John “Peeker” Heffernan, explained why.
“I haven’t talked to anybody who hasn’t been impressed with the job she’s done through the years and how she’s handled herself and how she has come to be a strong administrator,” said Heffernan, adding, “I know that she’s going to be terribly missed, both her personality, you know, and the way she deals with people is really going to be missed.”
He also described Kirby’s work with the selectboard.
“Since she first showed up, she’s been very good at moving forward and bringing us up to speed.
“She is very well informed, any decision she makes,” Heffernan said. “She researches everything, she doesn’t make a move without researching it and knowing what she’s doing. It isn’t something she does off the cuff.”
Kirby broke ground in 2014 as Bristol’s first female town administrator. She began working for the town in 2006 as assistant to then-town clerk and treasurer Penny Sherwood.
Kirby said that she came to the town office at a time of great change.
In 2006, Bristol lost three longtime employees within the space of a few months: administrative assistant Shirley Emilo died of cancer, town administrator/zoning administrator/solid waste supervisor Bob Hall retired, and Sherwood, clerk/treasurer since 1988, retired and moved to Maine.
“All institutional memory left,” said Kirby.
With Sherwood’s retirement, the selectboard appointed Kirby to fill the vacancy. She was first elected as town clerk and treasurer in 2007 and was re-elected for the next seven years.
In March 2014, then-town administrator Bill Bryant announced his retirement and Kirby threw her hat in the ring.
“I wanted a challenge. I’m that type of person,” said Kirby.
Kirby won the position against 12 other applicants, four of whom were interviewed.
As town administrator, Kirby has overseen a number of banner projects for Bristol, notably construction of the new fire station, closing of the town landfill, and the multi-pronged, still-in-progress process to build a business park. That last project included the town’s negotiating and selling the designated site to Stoney Hill Properties, creating a public/private task force to plan for the park, and holding a successful vote to extend the town’s water system.
 Kirby will continue to serve as town administrator through June 30, but the Bristol selectboard has begun its search for a new town administrator. At Monday night’s meeting, the selectboard fine-tuned its ad for a statewide search and approved a job description that Kirby drafted. It is available at www.bristolvt.org.
Reporter Gaen Murphree is reached at [email protected].

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