Town administrator leaving Sunderland for Princeton

  • Sunderland Town Hall. Staff Photo/Domenic Poli

Staff Writer
Published: 10/20/2019 10:51:04 PM

SUNDERLAND — The town administrator position is becoming vacant over the weekend.

Sherry Patch will take on an identical role in Princeton on Monday, having served in Sunderland since 2015. Tuesday was Patch’s final day in Town Hall, though she plans to attend the Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness Community Resilience Building Workshop at Sunderland Elementary School on Saturday. The workshop aims to help define Sunderland’s greatest vulnerabilities to climate change and how to increase resilience toward the problem in addition to identifying the town’s greatest strengths.

“I’m a better town administrator for working here,” she said Tuesday, adding that she will most miss Sunderland’s residents. “They’ve been amazing. It’s a great community. It really is.”

Patch said she is taking the job in Princeton to be closer to her home in Hardwick, where she grew up. Her commute to Sunderland has been about 50 minutes each way.

Patch said she is most satisfied with her work increasing safety and accessibility of town roadways and walkways. She is also proud there have been two Proposition 2½ overrides during her tenure and that Riverside Park, an 8-acre recreational site behind Town Hall, opened this summer.

Sunderland Selectboard Chair Scott Bergeron said Patch will be missed in town for her ability to work well with people and complete tasks. He also said Patch has a knack for securing grant money. Vice Chair David Pierce explained Patch’s responsibilities will be divvied up among Administrative Assistant Cindy Bennett and the rest of the Town Hall staff until a replacement is hired.

Patch began her career in public service in 1989 as an administrative assistant in Hardwick as she received her secondary education. She earned an associate’s degree in paralegal studies from Mount Wachusett Community College and a bachelor’s degree in community development and public health administration from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Patch became the Hardwick town administrator in 2007.

Princeton Selectboard Chair Karen Cruise said Patch came highly recommended from her professional references. Cruise said Patch has a lot of experience in a town with a similar size and similar demographics to Princeton.

“She’s sort of known for being able to talk with various people and bring them together and leave them feeling they’ve been heard and understood, even if they don’t get their own way,” Cruise said. “That’s important.”

Cruise said Patch was one of three applicants the Princeton Selectboard chose to interview, and Patch was the only candidate to be in the top two choices each of the three Selectboard members.

“A lot of people are looking forward to having Sherry,” Cruise said. “I think she’s going to be a good fit for Princeton.”

Patch said her work in Princeton, about 22 miles from Hardwick, will mirror that of Sunderland.

“(I hope) to continue to grow professionally and keep doing what I love doing,” she said.

Bergeron said the Sunderland Personnel Committee is accepting applications for a new town administrator until the end of the month. He said he expects that committee to recommend six to eight candidates to the Selectboard within two or three weeks of the application deadline. He hopes to have a replacement for Patch by the end of December or beginning of January.

Bergeron also said the turnover rate for the town administrator is quite low, as Patch was only the third in 20 years.

Reach Domenic Poli at: dpoli@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 262.




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