Winhall town administrator announces plan to retire
By Patrick McArdle
STAFF WRITER | January 22,2013
WINHALL — After 10 years as the town’s top employee, Winhall’s town administrator, who also has a long history of public service in Shaftsbury, will be stepping down sometime after town meeting.
On Friday, Dennis McCarthy, 66, said he will miss the job but decided it was time to step down because he had reached retirement age and has had some health issues.
“It’s a sunny day today, I should be out there enjoying it. I love my job ... and I’ve had a great run but great things come to an end. At least I’m moving on while they still like me,” he said with a laugh.
The town, which is host to many second homeowners, is accepting applications for town administrator through Jan. 30 and McCarthy said the Select Board will begin to consider the candidates at their Feb. 6 meeting.
Robert Oakes, chairman of the Select Board, said McCarthy will be missed.
“He’s done a very good job. He’s a hard worker, he’s conscientious and he’s going to be hard to replace,” Oakes said.
McCarthy said he has already promised the Select Board he will stay through town meeting. Because Winhall votes many items from the floor, including the budget, it’s generally one of the best attended in the area.
McCarthy said he has also offered to stay longer if needed and to be a resource to his successor. He and his wife, Marcy, will probably continue to live in Shaftsbury so he will remain close by.
It was in Shaftsbury where McCarthy’s life in public service began. In that town, he was chairman of the Select Board for 11 years and a member of the planning and zoning boards.
McCarthy said a small town like Shaftsbury didn’t need a town administrator when he was first on the Select Board but over the years, the amount of red tape increased. He pointed to a situation like the response to Tropical Storm Irene as the kind of issue that would have been “overwhelming” if a town didn’t have someone “there in the trenches.”
“I was fortunate enough, I was that person basically as the chair(man), and a lot of the stuff that had to be done, I was the one it was left to along with the selectman’s clerk. I guess I got my teeth honed by doing that,” he said.
After five years in Shaftsbury, McCarthy took on the job of town administrator in Winhall in 2003. Looking back over his 10 years, he said he will miss the people with whom he worked including the clerk, treasurer and members of the Select Board.
“Also, people here are nice. When I first came here, I said, ‘Why is everybody so happy?’ ... I was talking to a lady (who he had known for a long time) who had just purchased a house and she said, ‘Well, Dennis, everybody’s on vacation. They’re up here skiing. They’re all in a good mood.’ I never thought of it that way,” he said.
McCarthy said he was proud of accomplishments like road paving, moving to a new town hall and responding to Tropical Storm Irene but was also quick to point out those were team accomplishments.
He said he was also proud of the services the town of about 770 residents provided, including a police department whose members are all emergency medical technicians and a full-time transfer station with recycling stations.
McCarthy is a true local, who attended the North Bennington Graded School and the College of St. Joseph’s, when it was in Bennington’s downtown. He is a veteran of the U.S. Navy who served during the Vietnam War.
Before getting into municipal service, he had a plumbing and heating business but gave it up because of arthritis.