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Del Castilho gets interim town manager gig

Date: 10/9/2012

By Chris Maza

LONGMEADOW — The Select Board and Barry Del Castilho recently agreed on a contract that would allow him to begin serving as acting town manager on Oct. 10.

Select Board chair Paul Santaniello sent a letter to all town employees on Oct. 3 announcing that the contract had been completed.

"[The contract] is at-will," Santaniello told Reminder Publications. "Whenever we find a town manager, he will be relieved of his duties. The contract is not for a specific length of time."

Del Castilho was chosen by the Select Board to fill the role of town manager temporarily by a 3-2 vote at the board's Sept. 19 meeting, beating out Russell Denver for the position.

An associate with the Edward J. Collins Center for Public Management, Del Castilho spent 23 years as the town manager of Amherst before retiring in 2006. Since retiring, he has served as the interim town administrator for Wilbraham and South Hadley.

"After I retired, I knew that I wanted to do interim work, which I've since done in South Hadley and Wilbraham. This will be the first time as an interim town manager, so I'm looking forward to that challenge," he said. "I knew Longmeadow had a great reputation and staff, which is primarily why I applied for the job."

Santaniello said that one of Del Castilho's responsibilities would be to "take the lead role" in the search for a full-time town manager.

"He's worked with the Collins Center and he is very familiar with conducting these kinds of searches," Santaniello said.

Del Castilho confirmed that he had performed searches of this kind in the past and that he was willing to do whatever the Select Board requested of him in terms of finding a permanent replacement for the position.

"I did a number of searches, including two for the town administrator position in South Hadley," he said. "One of the things I will have to do is start re-establishing my contacts with managers across the state."

Del Castilho said initially his priority would be establishing lines of communication with department heads and staff to get a feel for the town's needs.

"Going in, I'm going to be doing a lot of listening, both to individuals and groups, to learn about the departments and their goals and to see how they square with those of the selectmen," he said.

While Del Castilho admitted that he did not fully know the challenges facing the town, he identified the budget as a major priority.

"Zero-based budgets are a challenge. I've had conversations with [Finance Director Paul Pasterczyk] about that already," he said, adding that the facilities study and filling the Council on Aging and veterans' services agent positions were other issues he was aware of.

Addressing conveying information to the public, Del Castilho said he would rely on his department heads in that regard.

"My time won't allow me to concentrate on personal contact with the public, so I will be working with the department heads offer guidance in that area," he said.