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Kubiak retiring from Deerfield town admin post on June 28

Recorder/Paul Franz
Bernard R. Kubiak is retiring as Town Administrator for the town of Deerfield.

Recorder/Paul Franz Bernard R. Kubiak is retiring as Town Administrator for the town of Deerfield.

SOUTH DEERFIELD — On June 28, Town Administrator Bernie Kubiak will walk out of the front doors of 8 Conway St. for the last time after almost eight years managing Deerfield.

Kubiak’s retirement will be bitter sweet for him as the town embarks on many pivotal projects that Kubiak helped put into motion this year, including a solar farm on the capped former landfill and the South Deerfield Village Complete Streets project and the to-be built $5.9 million public works facility.

An experienced interim town administrator, Wendy Foxmyn, will start on July 1 to help transition the town to its next manager.

Essentially a street-level bureaucrat, Kubiak has brought a level of managerial knowledge and political know-how to the small town of nearly 5,000 residents.

With salt and pepper hair, an eager walk and a determined demeanor, Kubiak was the man who turned policy proposals into reality and made sure town functions were in step with the law.

From a cluttered desk that only Kubiak could find his way through in the back corner office of the Town Hall, the 65-year-old Amherst man served as a go-to source for town operations.

“I’m a professional manager,” Kubiak said. “That’s what I’m trained to do. My job is to make town employees and the town successful. That’s my goal from day one until I walk out of here on June 28.”

Many of the town employees who have worked alongside Kubiak will miss their jovial and fair boss. Most of all, they will miss the “Bernie-isms” — Kubiak’s quick-witted comebacks and clever jokes.

“He’s been a great guy to work for,” said Priscilla Phelps, administrative assistant. “He’s easygoing but firm and fair. It’s going to be tough to replace him. He knows so much with the background he has.”

“He’s been a godsend to me,” said Town Clerk Mary Stokarski, who will also retire in December after 12 years. “Every time I had a question or needed an answer, he knew where to find it. He’s become a true friend.”

In the 1970s, Kubiak moved to western Mass. to earn a doctorate in history from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. He later returned to school for a master’s degree in education before landing administrative work in the state Department of Mental Retardation. In the 1980s he served as a Belchertown selectman.

In 2003, Kubiak retired from the state and began consulting work. And by then he had already obtained a master’s degree in public policy and administration from UMass-Amherst.

“I enjoyed municipal work,” said Kubiak. “For the Department of Mental Retardation, I directed services and functioned as a public administrator or a street level bureaucrat. Taking the master’s program helped consolidate the skills I had.”

He got his first taste of administrative municipal work for the town of Hadley, where he served as an interim town administrator. But ironically, Hadley chose David Nixon, the former Deerfield town administrator, for the permanent job. Instead, Kubiak was invited to interview for Nixon’s old job in Deerfield.

He started off with a bang, getting Pan Am Railways to pay back $365,000 owed to the town.

But he wasn’t an expert at first.

“It takes time in the system and practice and having the opportunity to exercise,” he said. “I didn’t come in here green.”

During Kubiak’s time in Deerfield, the government transformed. Previously, department heads operated independently, but eventually they came to work as a team.

“People stopped thinking as individual officers and started thinking as a whole. That spirit is important,” Kubiak said.

Major projects in the town, Kubiak managed, include the state Green Community grant status, where the town can receive aid for energy and fuel efficient projects. This year, he worked with the Hampshire Council of Governments to get a 2-megawatt solar array proposal for the landfill. And he also helped get the ball rolling on a Complete Streets proposal to improve the downtown center.

“I will miss the people I work with,” Kubiak said. “Deerfield has some very good people in this building. We work as a team in the best sense of it.”

In his retirement, he plans to take his kayak out of the garage and play with his granddaughter in Buckland.

June 28 won’t be the last time Deerfield will see Kubiak, however.

“I’m looking forward to coming back when the public works project will be completed, when the town flips the switch on the solar power at the landfill and when things come into being,” he said.

You can reach Kathleen McKiernan at:
kmckiernan@recorder.com
or 413-772-0261, ext. 268.

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