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PALMER — The search for a new town manager is reaching its final stages as the Town Council heard the search firm representative’s report on the two candidates vying for the position.

Current Hadley Town Administrator Carolyn Brennan and Plymouth Assistant Town Manager Brad Brothers were identified as finalists for the post at the Feb. 12 Palmer Town Council meeting.

As finalists, Brennan and Brothers will participate in interviews with Council members on Feb. 22. The council is expected to select Palmer’s next town manager at a subsequent meeting scheduled for Feb. 26.

One of the two finalists will fill the position vacated by former Town Manager Ryan McNutt, who resigned this past October. McNutt had served since his approval by the council in May 2019. Police Chief Christopher Burns assumed the role temporarily after McNutt departed. Robert Reed, who has served as a town manager and administrator in several municipalities, was selected in November 2023 to fill in as interim town manager as the search process commenced for a permanent candidate.

Executive search firm Community Paradigm Associates was engaged by the town Nov. 16, 2023, to lead and begin the search for a new town manager. Founder and Managing Principal Bernard Lynch updated the council on the process through a PowerPoint to outline the search protocols and explain where their efforts had led up to this point.

“We really began the active recruitment on Dec. 12,” Lynch told the council. “We have a database of roughly 400 people at this point made up of people that we have been working with through the years, they’ve been applicants in other positions perhaps or people that have contacted us that have indicated an interest in becoming a municipal manager in Massachusetts.”

Lynch explained that the active candidate search followed their initial process, reaching out to individuals in the market who might be a fit for the position. With a deadline of Jan. 14, the firm received 15 applications which he stated was a respectable number of responses. The town’s screening committee reviewed the candidate pool. Five candidates were initially identified for the interview process with one withdrawing in favor of another position.

The screening committee conducted interviews with the remaining prospects throughout the day on Feb. 3. With three of the candidates selected for presentation to the full Town Council, another withdrawal left Brennan and Brothers as the two left for consideration.

Brennan has served as Hadley town administrator since September 2020 and worked previously as the director of the Council on Aging in East Longmeadow, a position she held for 13 years. She held a similar position in Hampden also for 13 years. Brennan is currently a resident of Wilbraham.

Brothers has been the assistant town manager in Plymouth since April 2022. Prior to that he served as the chief operations and finance manager of schools in the neighboring town of Carver. He held the position of business manager for Palmer Public Schools from 2012 to 2016.

Lynch told the board that both Brothers and Brennan are very excited to be candidates for the Palmer town manager position.

“Both come very highly recommended in terms of their ability to work with people, to work with boards, to work with businesses and to really work in developing consensus in the community in which they operate,” he said.

The Feb. 22 interviews will address the candidate’s individual management styles, abilities in financial and project management, experience with community and economic development as well as personnel management, labor relations and external relationships.

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