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New Vergennes city manager could be named this week

I think it is fair to say if we are dazzled by a candidate on Wednesday we will move as quickly as we can.
— Vergennes Mayor Jeff Fritz

VERGENNES — If all goes well Vergennes could have a new city manager by later this week or the middle of next week, according to Mayor Jeff Fritz.
The Vergennes City Council on Nov. 26 interviewed by remote technology four finalists for the position being vacated next month by Matt Chabot. A search committee consisting of Fritz and Alderman Matt Koenig and David Austin put those candidates forward from a field of nine applicants.
Fritz said on this past Wednesday council members selected two out of those four finalists for in-person interviews on this Wednesday.
The council could offer the job to one of the candidates that evening, he said, or wait until another special meeting, possibly on Dec. 10, to discuss the finalists again before making a decision.
Fritz said he could not yet discuss the applicants’ identities.
“One of the candidates has asked for confidentiality as long as possible, so in the spirit of fairness to both of them we will not do so,” Fritz said. “I can tell you that both candidates have a great deal of municipal experience.”
One, he said, is a former New Englander now working below the Mason-Dixon line, while the other is currently working in Vermont.
Fritz said the two stood out in a strong field.
“I continue to be impressed with the candidates we received,” he said.
This Wednesday’s interviews should be the last stage in the process before an offer, according to Fritz.
“We are hopeful this is the final step,” Fritz said.
When that offer will be tendered is open to question, as the council seeks to balance between the need to act quickly — knowing there are other openings — with the need for deliberation.
“I would like us to deliberate on the in-person interviews before we proceed rashly,” Fritz said. “Yet not dilly-dally with the decision. It needs to be made quickly.”
Under one scenario it could be made immediately.
“I think it is fair to say if we are dazzled by a candidate on Wednesday we will move as quickly as we can,” Fritz said. “But we could wait until the 10th.”
In other business on Nov. 26 the city council:
• Supported the city recreation committee’s proposal to apply for planning grants to further explore completing a walking trail around the city. Fritz said many parts of a path are complete, but some links are missing, including a stretches along Route 7 and between the Otter Creek basin and the Kayhart Crossing area. Those grants do not require a local match, he said.
The committee said it also plans a volunteer effort to upgrade and clean up trails around the outdoor classroom area behind city schools and east of New Haven Road. Fritz said that work could begin soon. The committee is also working on putting signs on the trails, but will talk with the Otter Creek Basin Committee to agree on sign design before doing so, Fritz said.
• Endorsed a plan presented by developer Scott Hardy for mountain biking trails in McIntosh Park, a wooded area off Comfort Hill. Fritz said trails have been marked out and planned, and Hardy and others are seeking grant funding for the effort that would not require city support. “Our contribution to the project is the use of the park,” Fritz said. “We all blessed it.”

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