Paraschak to leave Naples, accepts Gorham town manager position
By Dawn De Busk
NAPLES — It was no secret that Naples Town Manager Ephrem Paraschak had applied for a town manager position with the Town of Gorham. He was one of two candidates being considered for the job.
Last week, Paraschak announced that he had been chosen for the job, which would begin Sept. 1. He did that through a letter to the Naples Board of Selectmen.
“Naples is a great community with a bright future ahead of it and I sincerely appreciate the opportunity to have served as your town manager,” Paraschak wrote.
This development meant the board met immediately on Monday, instead of waiting until the July 3 meeting date to address the process of hiring a new town manager and the selection of an interim town manager.
On Monday, the board met to discuss how to insure that the transition to a new town manager goes smoothly.
The full board voted to put out RFPs to firms that handle this type of hiring, including a request to the Maine Municipal Association (MMA). The turnaround time for the firms to respond with a proposal will be two or three weeks.
According to Paraschak, “There are three to four firms that do this. MMA is the biggest.”
“I would expect the Town of Naples to spend between…$3,000 and $8,000,” he said.
“Put out an ad, sort out the applications, pick 10. The board picks the rest. They [the hiring firm] help to facilitate the interviews,” Paraschak said. “That is the complete process where they help you every step of the way.”
One reasonable worry is the lengthy process of advertising the job, slimming down applicants to a few shining candidates, and then going through the rounds of interviews plus ‘meet and greets’ with the finalists. It is a time-consuming process that is needed to find a good fit for Naples.
“No matter what we do, there is going to be some time that we go without a town manager,” Chairman Jim Grattelo said.
“We have to give whoever guidance,” he said.
“Naples is unique in that it doesn’t have a public works department. It is a one-man paperhanger. It is a roll-up-your-sleeves job,” Grattelo said. “There are not many staff. On Friday, he [Paraschak] was pulling pylons out of the lake.”
According to Grattelo, the MMA “tends to recycle the town managers. They are a good group.”
There was talk of the importance of public input toward the beginning of the process rather than once the candidates are down to a few people.
Some towns hold a public forum to provide elected officials with their ideas about the future town manager, Grattelo said.
He asked, “Why don’t you tell us about your process in Gorham?”
Paraschak responded, saying he had been through the process twice with two different firms that had been contracted to help with the hiring of a town manager.
“Any consultant you hire should take in public input. From my personal perspective, the meet and greet of the final two candidates. That may scare away other candidates who are not as committed to the job, but are good candidates,” he said.
“I think there are ways to make that better,” Paraschak said. “I definitely think you need to have a public meeting. What are you looking for in a town manager — in the office, out in the field?”
Selectman Jim Turpin asked if it is “required that they live in the town” in which the job is.
“It is less and less of a requirement than in the past,” Paraschak said.
“It is good that people are part of the community, but as elected officials you know you cannot go to the grocery store without someone talking to you,” he said.
There was some discussion about the timeline when Town Clerk Judy Whynot stepped into the interim town manager’s seat until Derik Goodine was hired.
“We might get someone quickly to fill the spot,” Bob Caron II said.
Paraschak said that during the time period of late summer through early September, it is not as crucial to have an acting town manager as during the budget process.
“If I were to get hit by a bus, this town would function. Payroll would continue to be done. There would be an active town manager put in my place,” he said.
Additionally, Paraschak’s new job will allow him to take time to help with the transition once a new Naples town manager is chosen.
As pointed out by Chairman Grattelo, this topic will be on future agendas.