SHIRLEY -- At its previous meeting, the Board of Selectmen interviewed one of three finalists for the position of Town Administrator, vacant now for about a year.

From an original pool of 32 applicants, three candidates made the final cut by a unanimous vote of the Selection Committee and were slated for interviews with the selectmen last week. But only Patrice Garvin, currently the executive assistant to the Groton Town Manager, was interviewed because she was the only one who showed up.

Tuesday night, the selectmen decided to offer her the job.

Rather than go back into the application file for more choices or call for a second round, all three selectmen agreed to offer the job to Garvin, contingent on background and reference checks and successful contract negotiations.

Recounting the process, Chairman Kendra Dumont said the T.A. Selection Committee had done its job and she thanked them for it.

The group was charged with sifting through applications for the job as advertised, narrowing the field via resume perusal, spot-checks and phone interviews, then bringing in six top picks for interviews with the committee in person. The end goal was to choose three finalists for the selectmen to interview, she said.

But with the committee's three top picks on the table, the selectmen ended up with only one candidate to interview after the others withdrew, one of them at the last minute.

One of the other finalists apparently changed his mind, opting to stick with the job he now holds in Salem, N.


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H., where his salary is substantially higher than he'd be likely to make in Shirley, Selectman Robert Prescott said when asked about it last week.

With $92,000 set aside in the town budget to fill the position, the selectmen later explained that a final salary figure isn't tied to that number but must be negotiated with the successful candidate, as well as insurance benefits and other details.

The selectmen's executive assistant, Kathleen Rocco, confirmed that the second former finalist was a woman from Maine, who withdrew her application on the same day she'd been scheduled for an interview.

Now, the selectmen have said they're confident that going with Garvin is their best bet.

Dumont said Garvin had answered all the selectmen's questions satisfactorily, except, perhaps for her lack of grant experience. But she fielded that one well, too, arguing that the town shouldn't bank on grants anyway.

Prescott said he'd done a lot of thinking about the board's options before concluding that it wasn't a good idea to "put this back out there." After all, he reasoned, what where the chances the selectmen would find another such well-qualified candidate?

Dumont, who said she met informally with Garvin over the weekend, said it would be unwise as well as unfair to restart the process now.

Swain said Garvin met all the criteria for the job and he'd heard positive things about her from folks she worked with and others in Groton, as well as the Search Committee. The consensus was that she'd be a town administrator "someplace...within a year," he said.

The selectmen's view seemed to be that they should act now or risk losing out.

A resident of Chelmsford, where she serves on the Finance Committee, Garvin graduated from Suffolk University in 1995 with a bachelor of science degree in political science and sociology and earned a master's in education and developmental and educational psychology from Boston College in 1998.

Noting that Garvin has said she wants to stay in Groton until after its fall Town Meeting, the selectmen said they hope to have the job filled by mid October.