NORRIDGEWOCK — The few citizens who attended Wednesday night’s public hearing on the search for a new town manager voiced complaints and at times insults about the current town manager but said little about what they would like to see in the future.

At one point in the meeting, Vice Chairman of the Board of Selectmen Matt Everett had to tell the group of fewer than 10 people that “We’re not here to bash. We do want your input, but we’re not here to bash the current town manager. That doesn’t do anyone any good.”

Wednesday was Town Manager Michelle Flewelling’s last meeting with the Board of Selectmen, and Chairman Ron Frederick presented her with a plaque thanking her for her seven years of service prior to the start of the public hearing.

Flewelling will take over as town manager in Fairfield next month, and the board is currently working with the Maine Municipal Association to search for a new town manager. They are scheduled to meet in a special meeting Monday to review applications, of which they have received 25.

Only four residents spoke at Wednesday’s public hearing, including two public officials, sewer commissioner and planning board member Bruce Obert and Planning Board Chairman Scott Campbell.

Obert has clashed with Flewelling before, including at a sewer commissioners’ meeting in which he accused her of having an attitude. Obert would not say Wednesday whether he also started a petition to oust Flewelling in September.

“I’d like to see somebody local from the area, somebody you can sit down and talk with,” Obert said. “Somebody that stays in the town office, not in Augusta.”

“Or out back smoking,” said another resident, Danny Lanctot.

“Or out back smoking,” Obert said.

The two also criticized recent decisions by the town to install a glass window at the front desk of the town office and to put a speed bump on Upper Main Street.

Campbell, the planning board chairman, said he wants a town manager who “isn’t going to use the town as a stepping stone to a better job. I just want somebody who is probably local and isn’t looking to move on again.”

Flewelling, of Clinton, has served as town manager for seven years and held numerous other jobs in government and administration, including at the Clinton Town Office and the Kennebec Valley Community Action Program in Waterville.

Lanctot said Wednesday that the town is in chaos. “You have to come back three or four times to get a dog license or a lot of other things,” he said. “There’s been lies about the airport, saying it’s going to make us money, but it just costs us money. I’d like to see it back to a half-way decent place to do business.”

“You can start with taking the glass window off the front,” Obert said.

Selectmen at the meeting said the glass window was put in as a safety precaution to protect town employees.

“She does whatever she wants and always has from the time she come here (sic.),” said Lanctot, who described Flewelling’s attitude using profanity. “This is what I want in the next town manager— to be a better person.”

Ken Morgan, the only other resident to speak at Wednesday’s meeting, said he hoped the town would hire someone local. “I’d like to see somebody local or from our type of background,” Morgan said. “Somebody who has a strong potential to work with committees and can be available to those committees, someone not from away in their line of thinking.”

The board meets Monday to review applications and is hoping to hire someone by Jan. 1, according to Frederick.

Both Lanctot and Obert asked the board Wednesday if it would be possible to have a citizens’ committee also review the applications for town manager, as the town did in 2008 when it also went through the search process. Flewelling was ultimately hired as a replacement for John Doucette, who left to become town manager in Skowhegan.

The board said Wednesday that although they had considered a citizens’ committee, they ultimately decided it was not something they would pursue. They have contracted with the Maine Municipal Association to assist in the search.

“As elected officials we’re being trusted to make this decision,” said Selectman Jim Lyman. “If we make the wrong one, we won’t be sitting here again next year.”

Rachel Ohm — 612-2368

[email protected]

Twitter: @rachel_ohm

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