Orange building inspector to retire next year

  • Jeffrey Cooke responds to questions from the Orange Selectboard during a job interview in September 2021. STAFF FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 9/26/2023 12:46:55 PM

ORANGE — The Selectboard voted unanimously last week to accept Building Inspector Jeffrey Cooke’s impending retirement and to add to a Special Town Meeting warrant an article appropriating $43,000 to hire a building official to learn the ropes from Cooke for up to six months.

In a letter to the board, Cooke announced his plans to retire on Feb. 29, 2024, but stated this date is negotiable.

“Since there is a shortage of certified building officials in the commonwealth, the town might have to hire a local inspector conditionally, and once they obtain their certification as a building commissioner, I can turn the department over to the new commissioner,” he wrote. “Since the town of Orange has only one building official, the position is required to be certified as building commissioner or, if the person is certified as a local inspector, they can be appointed as a conditional building commissioner.”

Attempts by the Greenfield Recorder to contact Cooke were unsuccessful by press time.

Town Administrator Matthew Fortier mentioned Cooke has been in contact with him about retiring and recommended the article be placed on the warrant for the next Special Town Meeting, which does not have a confirmed date. Fortier said the alternative is to post the job and wait to see if anyone applies. Selectboard members said they saw no harm is submitting such an article.

“We want to have a small overlap,” Vice Chair Andrew Smith said. “We don’t want a gap.”

Fortier said Cooke, to avoid having the town unnecessarily pay for two similar positions, is willing to step down more immediately if there is a highly qualified applicant that requires little to no training. Selectboard members agreed that Cooke has been very generous with the advance notice he has given.

Cooke was appointed as building inspector in September 2021. His predecessor, Phil Harris, resigned effective Oct. 1 of that year. During his job interview, Cooke said he had worked similar jobs in Gardner, Athol, Marlborough and Orange, where he got his start in 2002.

Reach Domenic Poli at: or


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