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Southampton fire chief job draws 28 applications

— A total of 28 people applied to be the town’s new fire chief before the application deadline Wednesday.

“That’s a good number of applicants,” Select Board Chairman Michael L. Phelan Jr. said Thursday.

Interim Fire Chief William B. Kaleta, who served as deputy chief under Hyde, confirmed Thursday that he had applied for the position.

The Select Board Tuesday will discuss how to go about screening the applicants, he said, including whether to direct the already-formed town administrator screening committee to assist in the fire chief search as well.

“It’s certainly a possibility because they are already in place, but it will be up to the whole board to decide,” he said.

He said it is possible that residents who arenot also town officials could be part of this screening process, since they were excluded from the town administrator search process.

The position has been vacant for 10 months since the Select Board opted to not renew the contract of former Fire Chief Stephen P. Hyde Sr. without giving a public reason. The chief’s position is the only full-time job in the Fire Department. It was advertised with a salary range of $65,000 to $70,000.

The town administrator screening committee was assembled at a March 5 meeting by allowing the Select Board members Jacqueline M. Sears and Edward J. Cauley, who volunteered for the committee, to choose one person each to join them on the committee. The fifth member was named by the rest of the board. Their choices were Treasurer Donna Whiteley, Finance Committee Chairman John Martin and Police Chief David Silvernail.

The ongoing screening process for the town administrator position came under fire at the board’s April 16 meeting when Sears said the screening committee’s process was unfair and argued that Interim Town Administrator Regina Shea-Sullivan was overlooked. The board voted 3-2 to give Shea-Sullivan a “courtesy interview” even though she was not among the committee’s five semi-finalists.

Rebecca Everett can be reached at reverett@gazettenet.com.

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