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Chelsey Little recommended for Montague wastewater treatment supt. position

  • Chelsey Little has been recommended to the Selectboard to fill the Water Pollution Control Facility superintendent position. STAFF PHOTO/MAX MARCUS

Staff Writer
Published: 3/17/2020 2:27:43 PM

MONTAGUE — A uniquely passionate candidate has been recommended for the Water Pollution Control Facility’s superintendent position, likely bringing an end to an interim in the sewer department.

The candidate is Chelsey Little, a Montague resident who has been in the wastewater treatment business for four years, most recently as the superintendent of Northfield’s sewer department.

Despite her fairly short professional experience, the Selectboard, during a recent meeting, was impressed with Little’s resume, which includes a bachelor’s degree in biological sciences and a master’s in public health.

“The one sentence of, ‘I am passionate about wastewater treatment’ just sold me right there,” said Selectboard member Mike Nelson.

Little started working at the Greenfield sewer department in 2016, right after graduating from Southern Vermont College. While working she also earned her master’s degree, specializing in environmental public health. She became Northfield’s superintendent in January 2019.

If Little is hired, it will end an interim at the sewer department that was expected to last only four months, but is now going on six. It could also, Little said, give some stability to a department that has had well publicized financial problems in recent years.

The superintendent position has been empty since early September, when former Superintendent Bob McDonald left for a similar job in a town closer to where he lives.

In the interim, the department has been overseen by Chief Operator Kevin Boissonnaut, with former Superintendent Bob Trombley acting as a consultant.

Little is the second candidate recommended to the Selectboard by the town’s internal search committee. Eric Meals was recommended in December, but he reconsidered in January, two weeks before his scheduled start date, and the position had to be re-advertised.

The new superintendent will be stepping into a department that is rebuilding itself financially, after losing several major sources of revenue in recent years.

The loss in 2017 of the Southworth paper company was the most recent instance of a decline in industrial revenue that had been going on since at least 2012, said then-Superintendent McDonald. The department had also been forced to shut down an experimental sludge disposal process, which had been another source of revenue, but was ecologically unstable.

A 71 percent rate increase in 2018 was the most visible effect of all this for customers. When McDonald left a year later, he said the department’s business model had mostly stabilized, and there haven’t been any more major increases since. Yet, the department is still exploring options for reducing costs by reducing its energy consumption, according to Trombley.

“I think the place needs some stability,” Little said. “I’m happy to be able to be a part of that. I think it’s only up from here. I’m excited for the challenge.”

Reach Max Marcus at
mmarcus@recorder.com
or 413-930-4231.




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