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Crane commits to town manager position, starts April 2

Date: 2/14/2013

By Chris Maza

LONGMEADOW — The Select Board put an end to the arduous process of finding a new town manager, completing the contract for Stephen Crane.

"We have approved and signed the contract," Select Board Vice Chair Mark Gold said. "We had agreed as a board to enter into contract negotiations with Mr. Crane and this was the final step."

Crane is currently the city administrator for the town of Lancaster, Wis., a community with a population of approximately 4,000 people.

Crane will start work for the town of Longmeadow on April 2, a fact that Gold said he was thrilled about.

"[April 2] was within the original timeframe we had set for this search, which was late March or early May," he said. "I give [Acting Town Manager] Barry Del Castilho a lot of credit. He hit the timetable all the way."

Crane's starting salary will be $105,000 a year and the contract will run through June 30, 2016.

Crane told Reminder Publications that his decision to pursue the position was based largely upon what the town had to offer.

"Longmeadow is an ideal next step for my career because it will be a return to my native Massachusetts and there are great opportunities for my family, specifically my children through the school system," Crane, a native of Lowell, said. "It also offers great opportunities given the size of the community and the size of the responsibilities that fall on the town manager."

Crane said that getting a familiarity with the town and its leaders would be his first priority.

"I would like to first and foremost get to know the town and those who work for it, like the department heads and learn as much as I can about the town operations as quickly as possible," he said.

Crane also added that he saw building stronger bonds between the Select Board and the schools as something that he would like to address quickly.

"It seems clear from my research of the town and the questions posed to me during my interviews that enhancing the relationship with the school department is a priority and that's one thing I look forward to being a part of," he said.

The Select Board spent roughly two weeks negotiating the contract with Crane who was chosen over two other finalists, Edward Gil De Rubio, most recently the city manager of Trinidad, Colo., and Great Barrington Town Manager Kenneth O'Donnell. All candidates met privately with members of the Select Board on Jan. 23 prior to public interviews, which took place on Jan. 24.

The board elected to enter contract negotiations with Crane by a vote of 4-1, achieving the super-majority vote needed according to the Town Charter. Chair Paul Santaniello cast the negative vote, stating he supported Gil De Rubio as the most qualified candidate.

Gold, who ultimately voted in favor of Crane, also stated that he originally supported Gil De Rubio, but felt that the difference between the two candidates was not great enough to continue a 3-2 deadlock.

With the signing of the contract, the Select Board concludes a drawn out process that first began when in the fall 2011 when former Town Manager Robin Crosbie announced she would not seek a renewal of her contract. She officially left the town for the same job in Ipswich at the end of June 2012.

At the conclusion of its initial search in July 2012, for which the board contracted the services of the Edward J. Collins Center for Public Management, the board elected to enter into contract negotiations with Thomas Guerino, the town administrator for Bourne, however, the two sides were unable to come to terms.

After the board failed to agree on a contract with Guerino, a second group of candidates from the Collins Center's list of applicants were interviewed and the board unanimously voted to hire Bonnie Therrien, however, she accepted a position with another community prior to the completion of a contract.

On Oct. 3, 2012, the select board hired of Del Castilho for the temporary position of acting town manager and in that capacity, Del Castilho orchestrated a third search for Crosbie's replacement.

Santaniello was not available for comment.