Farewell, Joe Colangelo

Photo by Mike Donoghue
Shelburne Town Manager Joe Colangelo (right) embraces Rick Bessette, Shelburne Poet Laureate, at Colangelo’s last Selectboard meeting Tuesday night. Colangelo’s last day as manager is Friday.

Good-bye, Joe. Hello, Lee.
The transition of outgoing Town Manager Joe Colangelo and incoming Interim Town Manager Lee Krohn was marked by the Shelburne Selectboard at its meeting on Tuesday.

Selectboard members and several others including State Rep. Jessica Brumsted, D-Shelburne/St. George offered positive comments about Colangelo at the start of the meeting. Shelburne’s Poet Laureate Rick Bessette read his original poem “Farewell Joe” along with thanking Colangelo for helping create the poet position, the first for a town in Vermont.

Chairman Jerry Storey asked the board to affirm Krohn’s contract that had been signed on behalf of the town earlier. The board on separate 3-0 votes affirmed the contract and also agreed to transfer the town manager’s power under the charter to Krohn at 5 p.m. Friday.

Colangelo said he was thankful for his time in Shelburne and that he had made lifelong friends in his role. He paused for a few seconds as he praised his wife for standing beside him in what has been a time-consuming job.

“She was always there for me,” he said.

The newest Selectboard member Mary Kehoe, who was the former chair of the Development Review Board, said she was impressed by Colangelo’s quick response no matter the time.  She noted she sent email this past Sunday and got an immediate response.

Dr. Colleen Parker said she joined the Selectboard just after Colangelo was hired four years ago and that she was grateful to have him as a colleague as she learned her role. She said Colangelo was able to get a long-stalled library expansion project moving forward by bringing the Selectboard and Library Trustees together on a planning committee.

Brumsted said she was glad to work with Colangelo on several projects, including Bay Road, the dog park, economic development and government transparency.
Bessette, before reading his poem, recalled how Colangelo suggested he consider becoming the town’s first poet laureate. Recently reappointed to a second term, Bessette noted how Shelburne children are now writing poems and sharing them in the community as a result.

“You have changed my life,” Bessette said.  “You put something in place in this town that will stick forever.”

Colangelo has been named town manager in Hanover, Mass., a town twice the size of Shelburne.  His salary will jump from $110,000 to $155,000.

Krohn, who lives in South Burlington and is a volunteer firefighter in Shelburne, attended Tuesday’s meeting. He said he appreciated the chance to serve the town. “Thank you for the confidence shown,” he said.

Krohn has worked as a senior planner for the Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission since October 2013. He will be a temporary Shelburne town employee as interim manager.

He recently completed another temporary stint as interim zoning administrator in Charlotte on loan from the regional commission. Shelburne officials initially considered a loan arrangement for the interim manager position but the negotiations instead steered to Krohn being hired with standard benefits including health and retirement.

Krohn had said the decision to become a town employee was made in part so any decision he makes as manager would be in the best interest of Shelburne, his employer, and not the regional planning commission. He said the move would help him avoid answering to two bosses.

That concern will now play out with the future of the Shelburne Emergency Dispatch Center.  Town voters rejected joining a possible larger regional dispatch center, which has strong support from the Chittenden County Regional Planning and its executive director.

Shelburne now is in a fight to save two state-funded dispatchers that could be shifted to the new dispatch center if the regional center moves forward

Krohn’s appointment was not without controversy. Storey nominated Krohn and the board approved the move 4-1 without any public discussion until after the vote.
Seletboard member Dr. Josh Dein was the lone vote against the choice. He said he thought the process was flawed without considering options or any public solicitation for applicants. Kehoe said she liked the idea of the regional commission loaning Krohn to the town and reluctantly vote in favor of hiring him as a termporary employee.

Krohn previously worked for the town of Manchester for 24 years in a variety of roles including six months as interim town manager. He also served as planning director, zoning administrator, tree warden, E911 coordinator, roundabout project manager and volunteer firefighter.

He has a bachelor’s degree from Franklin and Marshall College and a master’s degree in environmental management from the Duke University School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.

Krohn’s annual salary of $93,000 is being prorated from Monday of this week through Aug. 31.

Moving forward
With an interim manager in place, the next task is the search for a permanent manager. The Town Manager Search Committee was expected to hold its organizational meeting Wednesday night.

The Selectboard voted 3-0 to added Rep. Brumsted and Town Clerk Diana Vachon to the search committee as at-large members. They will join Kathy Brooks, who served on the hiring committee when Colangelo was selected and has a background in human resources.

Storey noted that fellow Selectboard member Dein, who was absent Tuesday night, had proposed Joan Lenes as another at-large member. Lenes previously served on the school board and in the Vermont House of Representatives. Storey said final selections would be made when the full board is present. Selectboard member Jaime Heins also was missing from Tuesday’s meeting.

Two weeks ago, each Selectboard member was asked to name two search committee members.

Storey picked Roger Preis and Tim Pudvar; Kehoe named Doug Merrill and Mark Sammut; Dein chose Linda Riell and Thomas Murphy; Heins selected Amy Berger and Jane Zenaty; Parker recruited Bruce Lisman and Kristina Guerrero.

Ann Janda, the town’s director of administration, also will assist the search committee and as an ex-officio member. Storey said Janda was unable to attend the first meeting but that Colangelo would assist the committee on Wednesday.

One Response to "Farewell, Joe Colangelo"

  1. Dan Eickenberg   May 2, 2018 at 3:12 pm

    I wish I could say that I have the same warm sentiments about Joe that some have shared in this article however, I watched as Joe suspended not only the Chief, but two other public safety employees around the same time, wrongfully in my opinion, as he appeared to be someone easily influenced by others. My hope was that Joe would leave either by termination or a nonrenewal of his contract so he could feel the financial fear and embarrassment these dedicated employees felt.


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