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Conway Personnel Committee chair resigns

Second resignation this week

CONWAY — The c hairwoman of the town Personnel Committee, charged with bringing town policies in line with state law, is resigning.

Heather Rose is resigning as of June 30, a day before her appointment ends.

Rose leaves the post after four years. A second member of the six-member committee, Kathy Goodfield, also resigned this week.

Rose cited the job’s workload as her reasons for leaving.

“It is getting too much into my personal life,” Rose said. “It requires more attention than I could give.”

Goodfield could not be reached for comment.

Both women were part of the original six Personnel Committee members who crafted the 2009 town bylaw establishing the committee.

Rose brought with her a 13-year background in human resources. She currently works for the Springfield Partners for Community Action.

She is leaving just as Conway needs to begin its fourth search in less than a year for a new town administrator. Town Administrator Amanda Majewski-Winn gave her notice this week to move to Cape Cod. Her last day is June 24.

Rose said she most likely will not be a part of the new search process for Majewski-Winn’s replacement. She indicated the town will likely follow the same search process it used in hiring Majewski-Winn — a process about which The Recorder filed an Open Meeting Law complaint because the procedure, guided by the Selectboard members, kept secret the names of all candidates except the person hired. That appeal is currently being reviewed by the state attorney general’s office.

On Tuesday, the town advertised for the position, asking for applicants with a “thorough knowledge of the principles and practices of municipal finances and budget management, human resource management, collective bargaining and inter-governmental relations. A bachelor’s degree in public administration or related field and five years experience is required.

The deadline to apply is Monday at 5 p.m.

According to the town bylaws, the Personnel Committee is charged with advising the Selectboard on personnel matters and policy.

One of the main jobs of the committee was to draft a personnel handbook, outlining policies including attendance, benefits, classification, compensation, grievances, termination and working hours.

The committee was also charged with creating a booklet for documenting new and replacement hiring and termination processes and conducting the initial screening of job candidates.

Over the four years, Rose said her biggest achievement is helping to create the new personnel handbook.

“The handbook is our biggest task and challenge,” Rose said. “In developing the handbook, we had to reconcile what practice had been with what the policy should be.”

In past years, the town lacked proper documentation, performance evaluations and employee warnings — areas that could open the town up to litigation.

Eleven months later, the handbook — a document with rules for town employees — is still waiting for the Selectboard’s approval. The book has not been passed out to employees, who are operating under the previous handbook.

The Personnel Committee submitted the new personnel handbook last summer, but the Selectboard has not formally approved and rolled out the handbook yet. Last July, the board tentatively approved the personnel handbook, but held it back for further review.

Selectboard Chairman John O’Rourke said the board only gave the book preliminary approval.

If the handbook had been rolled out, it might have prevented the conflict with former Town Administrator Edward MacDonald, who resigned in January and claimed about $14,000 in owed wages.

Rose said if the town had specific rules regarding termination pay, the town could have avoided MacDonald’s complaint.

During the 11-month review of the handbook, one of the proposed changes that was nixed was a local nepotism policy.

Instead, the town decided to follow the state’s conflict of interest law — a practice many small towns like Sunderland and Whately follow.

Before her last day, Rose hopes to see the handbook passed out.

“I’d like to see the book out before I go off,” Rose said. “It’s a crown jewel of the Personnel Committee.”

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

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