WEST PARIS – Chairman of the Board of Selectmen Harlan Abbott said Thursday he and his colleagues are urging residents to join a town manager search committee that needs to begin its work as soon as possible.

Abbott added that two people had voiced interest so far. “We have received two letters, but we need more before we can begin considering appointments.”

He explained that the committee, when set, is to consist of one selectman, serving as chairman, and four citizens. It will be charged with reviewing applications, interviewing candidates, researching background information and finally recommending a candidate to selectmen before the annual town meeting next March. Once selectmen decide on a candidate, it will be up to the voters to approve a salary and vote to appropriate the needed funds.

Several people have approached selectmen as to why a committee is not in place yet and in answer, selectmen say the committee can not be appointed until they know who is willing to serve.

“We need people to come forward,” said Abbott, “and then we can make the appointments.”

The vote to change to a town manager form of government was taken at the March 1 town meeting and the issue passed overwhelmingly. It was one of several tries made to introduce a town manager to West Paris over the past 15 years. In past tries the issue failed, however, it came closer to passing each time it was brought to the voters. In 1988 and 1995 it failed miserably by huge margins, in 1999 it came within 52 votes of passage, and in 2002 it failed by only 11.

Selectman Toy Whitman said if not enough people come forward to make up the committee, the board would have to begin calling people and asking them if they are interested in serving.

“If people don’t come in with their letters of intent soon, we’ll have to start going to the people until we have the people we need to make up the committee. And we hope that will be as soon as the process of finding a town manager candidate needs to get under way,” he said.

Letters of intent can be turned in at the town office on Kingsbury Street anytime during regular office hours.

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