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New Ipswich Town Administrator named

NEW IPSWICH — The Select Board has named Roberta Fraser, a Winchester resident, as the town’s new town administrator.

Fraser has experience running a town as both a town administrator and as a selectman. She is currently serving part-time as the town administrator for the town of Richmond and as the Select Board chair in her home town of Winchester. Those are experiences that will serve her well in her new job as New Ipswich’s town administrator, she said in a phone interview Monday.

“I will need very minimal training. I can step in and take over where Marie [Knowlton] left off,” said Fraser. “Towns are basically the same. They have different issues, but at the core they operate the same. I know that I can do the job, I’ve been doing it for so long.”

She first started working for Winchester in the accounts management department in 2003, Fraser said, and began as a town administrator in Richmond three years ago. While she does not have a degree in business administration, she has taken two years worth of classes on the subject at Keene State College, in addition to her work experience.

Fraser will be stepping into the position left empty by the town’s former administrator, Marie Knowlton, who left the position to retire on Feb. 5. Fraser will begin in the position part-time after clearing the background check required for New Ipswich town employees, while fulfilling her obligations in Richmond. She has also made a commitment to be in town on March 12 during voting, to begin the process of getting to know the local townspeople, she said. She will take the role on full-time starting on March 18.

Select Board Chair George Lawrence said in an interview last week that Fraser was the first choice for the position out of the 30 candidates who applied. The board had narrowed that list to several finalist candidates, all of whom had experience as a town administrator. Fraser seemed to have a good energy and be a good fit for the town, said Lawrence.

Fraser agreed. Although Richmond is a much smaller town than New Ipswich — with a population of 1,200 compared with New Ipswich’s 5,500 — Winchester, where she serves on the Select Board is much closer in size, with a population of 4,200. Winchester is also an SB2 town, and Fraser is already familiar with the way voting takes place in New Ipswich, she said.

Because Richmond is such a small municipality, Fraser said, the town administrator position was only a part-time one, and Fraser was seeking to take on the challenge of a full-time position when she applied in New Ipswich.

The members of the Select Board have begun to instruct Fraser in the issues she will be facing as the town administrator, she said. Those issues include a proposed wind farm that would straddle the town line of New Ipswich and Temple, finding permanent housing for the police, fire and emergency management departments, and several projects that require obtaining grants.

Fraser said that besides her municipal experience, she is also involved heavily with her local community. She is on the Board of Directors for the Winchester Learning Center, as well as the chair of the annual Winchester Pickle Festival.

The Select Board will meet on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. in the conference room of the town offices.

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 235 or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter at @AshleySaari.

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