DERRY — The search is on for Derry's next town administrator.

Interviews with prospective candidates are scheduled to begin soon with a citizens panel set to begin the questioning.

The town contracted with Municipal Resources Inc. to help in the search and the process is right on track, according to Larry Budreau, the town's director of human resources/administration.

Budreau said the initial field of more than 100 candidates for the top job was whittled down to six candidates who are scheduled for interviews on July 22.

The top six will be interviewed by three separate panels — citizens, employees and professional peers.

"The results of those interviews will be evaluated by MRI, and some or all of the candidates will be invited to an interview with Town Council on July 23," Budreau said.

The call went out to fill the citizen panel spots a few months ago and currently 11 residents expressed interest.

"All 11 will be invited to participate," Budreau said. "Confirmation letters/e-mails will be sent to them early next week."

Based on those letters of interest, Budreau said the panel will represent a broad spectrum of Derry residents, with varying degrees of involvement in the town's public affairs and with differing areas of focus or concern.

In addition, Budreau said, 15 town employees wanted to be part of the employee interview panel. Nine were invited to participate.

"Employee selection was based upon MRI's desire to encompass as many departments, unions and levels of the organization as possible — balanced with maintaining a reasonable group size of no less than seven nor more than 10," Budreau said.

Citizen panel members include Craig Bulkley, Betsy Burtis, Paul Dionne, Mark Grabowski, Christina Hitchcock, Andrew Manuse, David McPherson, Doug Newell, John O'Connor, Frank Santiago and Erich Whitney.

Town employees selected to take part in the interview process are Budreau; Frank Childs, finance; Joanie Cornetta, transfer station; Mike Gagnon, fire department; Chuck Hemeon, EMS; Janice Mobsby, finance; Elizabeth Robidoux, planning; Vern Thomas, police department; and Mike Willinsky, fire department.

MRI officials told the Town Council earlier this year that response to Derry's town administrator search was very positive. The search could take approximately five months.

When Stenhouse was hired in 2007, his base salary was $117,655, including benefits and a $3,600 car allowance. Budreau said it was too early to discuss salary numbers for the next administrator.

Stenhouse was chosen from a final field of six candidates. His contract was set to expire this month, but councilors approved keeping him on the job until a new administrator is hired.

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