SHIRLEY -- After six months on the job, Town Administrator Patrice Garvin passed her first performance review with flying colors.

When selectmen conducted their six-month review of the new administrator's job performance Monday night, they said Garvin has lived up to expectations so far and then some. This in tandem with Garvin's self-snapshot of work-in-progress toward meeting her goals and objectives and helping selectmen meet theirs during her first half-year in the corner office.

Chairwoman Kendra Dumont said that when Garvin applied for the job, attaching a six-month "probationary" period concerned her, but it was not a deal-breaker, as she'd feared.

"She said it was not a problem for her," Dumont said of Garvin. That confidence impressed her, Dumont said, and Garvin's follow-through even more so.

Noting that communication has been an issue for selectmen in the past, Dumont said the board now gets regular updates from the administrator on activities in Town Hall and around town and she works well with the Finance Committee, another plus for the board.

While building the town budget with the Finance Team, Garvin worked with the Insurance Advisory Committee on a mutually beneficial proposal that is now in the works, changing the employee health insurance plan design and saving the town $100,000, Dumont said. "I couldn't be happier!"

Referencing a relatively stormy last few years for town government, Selectman Robert Prescott said it's been "frustrating" at times. "Balls were dropped," he said, but the new administrator helped pick them up. As for the budget, "it's not over yet," he said, but at least it's on track. "We can read and understand it this year," he said of the document Garvin put her stamp on. "We've come quite a ways in six months ... thank you."

Selectman David Swain put it succinctly. The board sought a strong administrator, and it got one in Garvin. "We wanted someone to take charge," he said. "She has done that."

Swain said that was not the case with the previous administrator, whose performance was unsatisfactory in his view, prompting him to call his seat on the board "my second 40-hour a week job." With Garvin on board, those hours have been cut significantly, he said.

Dumont added an anecdote that backs up the board's review in retrospect. On July 4 last year, with Garvin's appointment pending, she got a phone call from a former longtime selectmen in Groton, Garvin's previous employer. Fran Dillon, an outspoken man who has since passed away, said Garvin was "the best damn hire I ever made," Dumont said.

So far, Shirley selectmen are pleased with the choice they made, too. "She tackled issues that were outstanding," Dumont concluded. "I look forward to continuing the process."