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March 05. 2013 9:14PM

New Ipswich hires new town administrator from Richmond

NEW IPSWICH - A new town administrator will begin work by the end of the month, replacing Marie Knowlton, who left her post last month after serving as town administrator for seven years.

According to George Lawrence, chairman of the board of selectmen, the town hired Roberta Fraser, the current part-time town administrator for Richmond. Fraser, who lives in Winchester and serves on the board of selectmen there, stood out among the pool of more than 30 applicants and seems like a good fit for New Ipswich, said Lawrence.

The applicants came from as far away as California and included town administrators from across New Hampshire and New England, but it was Fraser's energy and her demeanor during her interview with the board that sealed the deal for the town.

"The board felt that because she is a part-time administrator now with eight years experience, she will be adaptable to what New Ipswich requires," Lawrence said. "There might have been some other people who applied who were well qualified, but she seemed to have what we need."

Lawrence said Fraser's salary will range between $45,000 and $50,000 and said she would be facing a probationary period when she starts.

The salary range was a deal-breaker for many of the current town administrators who applied, said Lawrence, as many were looking for compensation around $75,000.

"They didn't want to take a big pay cut to come to New Ipswich," he said.

Though Knowlton was making in the range of $63,000 at the time of her departure, Lawrence said the former town administrator had to work her way up the pay scale over seven years to get there.

Lawrence said Fraser won't be asked to relocate to New Ipswich to serve as town administrator. There has been efforts in the past by some residents to require that town officials, including the police chief and the road agent, live in town, but Lawrence said that wasn't a condition of Fraser's employment.

The town is still waiting on a background check on Fraser to be completed, and she needs to serve out the notice she gave to Richmond before starting at New Ipswich. She may start part time in the next few weeks, said Lawrence, and the hope is to have her working full time by the end of March.


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