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Town clerk to pass baton in Ferrisburgh

FERRISBURGH ASSISTANT CLERK and Treasurer Pam Cousino, top, a veteran of two decades of work in Ferrisburgh’s town office, will soon replace Ferrisburgh Town Clerk Gloria Warden. Warden recently announced she would retire after six years at that post, a tenure that followed many years working for the town of Charlotte.

FERRISBURGH — Ferrisburgh Town Clerk Gloria Warden is stepping down after almost six years on the job, but the town selectboard did not have to look far or wait long to find a replacement.
Board Chairman Rick Ebel said last week the board quickly turned to Assistant Town Clerk and Assistant Treasurer Pam Cousino, who after 21 years in that job readily agreed to remove the word assistant from her title.
Ebel said board members accepted Warden’s resignation “with regret,” but were glad Cousino would fill her shoes.
“It took Pam about 20 seconds to say yes,” Ebel said. “We were happy to know Pam is very interested.”
Warden easily won election to her town clerk position in 2014 as a write-in candidate, and then won re-election in a landslide in 2017.
Since then Ferrisburgh has switched to a system of appointing its clerks and treasurers, a change that also includes making non-residents eligible for appointment. Cousino lives in Vergennes, although she grew up in Ferrisburgh and has deep family roots in the community.
Warden, who declined to discuss her exact age for publication, but acknowledged it was of typical retirement vintage, said she was ready to join her husband Jim Warden in retirement. Jim Warden, a former Ferrisburgh selectman, retired from his position as Shelburne police chief about two years ago. Gloria Warden worked for many years in a variety of positions in Charlotte town government before running for the Ferrisburgh clerk’s job.
She described her plans for retirement as simple, calling herself a homebody who enjoys quilting, making jewelry and notecards, and gardening.
“I just have hobbies I haven’t had time to get to,” said Warden.
 Her resignation is technically effective on Dec. 31, but because she has never taken vacation time her work will end as of Dec. 6, although Warden has said she will help out if needed.
In her recent letter of resignation that Warden addressed both to the board and “members of the community,” she listed as accomplishments bringing both Wi-Fi and public access to a computer with land records and surveys to the clerk’s office, reorganization of the vault, archiving of old records, bar-coding tax bills and voter check lists, and running successful elections. 
Warden also wrote she had “gained a deep appreciation for the many volunteers that serve our town and help to make Ferrisburgh such a special place to live and work. Without these people our town would not run as smoothly as it does and I will forever be thankful to end my career on this high note in the place I call home.”
Warden told the Independent she “just loved her job,” would miss all her co-workers, and was confident in Cousino.
“I’m leaving the town in good capable hands,” she said.
Cousino acknowledged some mixed feelings about her new position and Warden’s coming departure.
“I feel good about it (the job),” she said. “I’m sorry to see someone I’ve worked with for almost six years leave.”
MOVING FORWARD
At last week’s meeting selectboard members discussed how they would replace Cousino, whose many duties also include several hours a week working with the town’s board of listers as well as recording legal documents, tracking the town’s finances, and meeting the needs of the citizens and professionals who contact or require services at the office. 
“We have the opportunity to think about how we can organize our human resources in the space,” Ebel said, adding, “She’s had her toes in every one of these functions in her 20-something years here.”
Selectboard member Clark Hinsdale wondered if part-time employees would be more efficient and less expensive, both in avoiding overtime and paying health benefits.
“As we move forward again, I’m going to ask if there is a different way to distribute that (workload),” Hinsdale said. “It’s definitely an opportunity to look at a total compensation package.”
Ebel said the board would seek help from Cousino in designing a job description for her replacement, or possibly replacements.
“I’ve asked Pam to give some thought to what kind of support she needs to see at this office,” he said.
Cousino hinted to the Independent on things she might tell the board.
“Hopefully we can find somebody that can take my place when I retire,” she said. “It takes a long time to learn. It would be a good stepping stone.”
Ebel summed up the selectboard discussion.
“We know we have a need, and we have to fill it, and we have to be thoughtful about it,” he said.Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at [email protected].

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