Kittredge, Farrar fill key city vacancies

MORGAN KITTREDGE, LEFT, take over as Vergennes city clerk from longtime clerk Joan Devine on Feb. 28. At the same time administrative assistant Abbie Farrar, right, will assume Devine’s treasurer duties. With the recent hire of Daniel Hofman as city manager, the city’s office staff is being changed dramatically.

VERGENNES — The recent hire of Morgan Kittredge as the new Vergennes City Clerk and promotion of Abbie Farrar from administrative assistant to city treasurer, both effective with the Feb. 28 retirement of longtime Vergennes Clerk/Treasurer Joan Devine, completes a transformation at Vergennes City Hall.
City Manager Dan Hofman came aboard on Jan. 2, meaning that within less than two months the three top jobs in Vergennes City Hall will be staffed with new personnel, while the clerk and treasurer positions have been split for the first time.
Hofman said he is confident that office structure is best for the city, and that the right people are poised to fill the jobs. Kittredge was a unanimous pick among a field of applicants for the clerk position, and Farrar, who just celebrated a year as a city hall administrative assistant, has assumed many financial responsibilities all along, Hofman said.
“It’s too much to have that clerk and treasurer to be the same person,” he said. “(Treasurer) is a big responsibility in itself. Abbie, who is talented in finances, and Morgan, who is talented in the legal-land record aspects, it’s a beautiful mold here.”
At the same Jan. 28 Vergennes City Council meeting that councilors approved the hires, they also approved new job descriptions for the clerk, treasurer and administrative assistant (that part-time position is now being advertised).
Hofman said he developed those job responsibilities after consulting with city employees, and those documents will serve as the underpinnings of the revamped flow chart.
“We have the right foundation here,” he said.
That statement included the people brought on board, Hofman said. 
“Abbie did a lot of the budget work last year as an admin assistant, and does payroll and accounts payable, and has impressed me,” he said. “I’m a big finance guy, and she has impressed me with her finance skills.”
Mayor Jeff Fritz praised Farrar’s promotion.
“There was sort of a plan in place that Abbie would take over as the treasurer,” Fritz said. “It was really easy to see happening after she had been with us for a while. She’s an absolutely stellar hire.”

Although duties will inevitably overlap in a small office, residents will likely most often interact with Kittredge. Fritz was asked what made her stand out in the application process.
“Her enthusiasm, without question. Certainly she’s very competent, and her résumé bears out her competencies,” Fritz said.  “But she has an infectious personality, and that makes a big difference when you have that sort of personality as the face of city hall.”
Hofman cited Kittredge’s experience as a paralegal doing title searches, was well as her customer-service background in the financial-service sector as pluses.
“I really wanted someone with a strong land-record background, and she has that,” Hofman said.
References also reported to Hofman that Kittredge was eager to grow on the job, something he said she also told the council’s hiring committee.
“She expressed that she was a very motivated and ambitious person. We’ve got a lot of changes. We’re going to start digitizing land records, moving things into the future, and I just really wanted someone who’s a hard-working team player,” Hofman said. “I want someone who wants to learn and problem-solve.”
Kittredge, 39, is a native of Sheldon, near St. Albans, who earned a bachelor’s degree in Professional Studies from Champlain College. After college she worked two years as a Chittenden County docket clerk and for eight years as a paralegal in Burlington.
Her husband, Seth Kittredge, grew up in New Haven and Vergennes, and they eventually moved to Vergennes from St. Albans to be closer to his work in Bristol and hers in Burlington. They now have three children between the ages of 4 and 11, two attending city schools.
After they started their family, Morgan Kittredge operated a home-based childcare business for seven years before working as a financial advisor for more than two years, but she hoped to find something she felt would be more personally fulfilling. She believed her skillset matched the clerk’s position, and it would meet her goals. 
“I was looking for something that was local that gave me the opportunity to help other people, while also earning decent money and being close to the school where my kids go,” she said. “And what better way to help the community than being their city clerk.”
 With help from Devine and former administrative assistant Melissa Wright, who recently left to work for the town of Middlebury, Kittredge believes she will be ready by Feb. 28 — especially given that Devine will return to help with the March 3 election.
“It’s a lot of processes, is what I’ve found. There are 15 or 20 different things that happen in a town clerk’s office, and there’s a process for every single one of them,” she said. “That’s what you have to learn. There are so many little things behind the scenes that most people aren’t aware of. I’m learning those to make sure those things are really organized and easily available and easily tracked.”
Kittredge credits everyone in city hall for making the transition smooth, and said she is looking forward to working with Hofman and Farrar.
“They’ve all been wonderful,” she said. “Dan’s been really supportive. I think he was looking for someone who is a really good team player, and that’s something I enjoy, too … working as a team, helping each other out, and in a small office you really need to do that.”
Like everybody, she’ll miss Devine.
“She’s fun to work with, and she’s a wealth of knowledge. She’s been here so long she knows the history of people and their families and property, and just the city,” Kittredge said. “And she’s a funny person, down to earth, with a lot of common sense. I really just appreciated everything she’s offered.”
So far, so good, she said.
“I love it,” Kittredge said. “I feel like it’s a good fit.”
But she won’t pledge to match Devine’s record for longevity on the job.  
“That would make me quite old, and I don’t think I want to be working at that age,” Kittredge said. “But I have no reason to suspect I won’t be here long term.”
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at [email protected].

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