TOWNSEND -- Selectmen voted unanimously Thursday to offer the position of fire-EMS chief to Mark Boynton, the current fire chief in Amherst, N.H.

Selectmen Chairman Sue Lisio said she chose Boynton primarily for his prior experience as a fire chief, which included budgeting and overseeing a department made up of both full-time and on-call firefighters, like Townsend's fire department.

"One of the big challenges here is the budgeting piece of the world. There's never enough money ever. I don't think it's fair sometimes that our chiefs are put in the position of having to fight for money for what they know is important, but that's part of it," Lisio said.

Prior to his four-year stretch as the fire chief in Amherst, Boynton worked in Keene, N.H., for 20 years. He said deciding to apply to Amherst, and eventually Townsend, was a return to his roots. He began his career as a volunteer firefighter in Walpole, N.H., where his father also worked as a firefighter.

"I really wanted to get back to the small town where you're more involved in the community, and you have firefighters who are there not so much for a paycheck. That's nothing against the full-time guys, but they're there more to give back to the community," Boynton said.

"When I saw the posting for this job, I thought, that's the perfect opportunity where I can work in a town similar to Amherst, do what I want to do, retire from the New Hampshire system, still be close by and do what I want to do for the next 10 years," he said.

Boynton said he would be available to start work in four weeks.

"I'm looking forward to the challenge and meeting the guys in the department, getting involved in the community. From what I've seen it's a great department and I'm looking forward to working with it," said Boynton.

His first mission on the job, he said, will be to build relationships with members of the department.

"People won't follow you until they know you and they trust you," Boynton said.

He'll then hold a brainstorming session with the entire staff to determine any changes they would like to see.

"That's the beginning stage of a strategy for the department over the next five or 10 years," Boynton said.

Boynton was one of two finalists interviewed by selectmen Thursday night. Lisio said she was also impressed with the other finalist, Dracut Fire Department Capt. Gregory Gagnon, but that he simply had less experience than Boynton.

A third finalist, Ayer Fire Department Capt. Timothy Johnston, withdrew his name from consideration prior to the interviews.

The finalists were chosen by a screening committee that reviewed 24 applications for the opening. Nine of those candidates were interviewed by the screening committee.

Boynton will replace Fire Chief Donald Klein, who retired March 28. Until Boynton begins, Deputy Chief David Roy is serving as the acting chief, while Capt. Mike Grimley is running day-to-day operations.

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