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Select Board welcomes new town staff members, recognizes volunteers

by | Nov 8, 2023 | Featured: News, News

The Select Board confirmed newly appointed town staff members and recognized longtime volunteers at its meeting Tuesday night.

“These are happy moments,” said Town Manager Norman Khumalo before the candidates were introduced to the board. All were approved in 4-0 votes.

Laurie St. John is no stranger to Town Hall, having worked in the Finance Department for the past two years. She now will be serving as the administrative assistant to the Land Use Department. Khumalo praised her for “excellent customer service.”

“I just love seeing advancement within the town,” said Select Board member Irfan Nasrullah via Zoom.

Another well-known person who now will be working for the town is Holly Morand. She resigned from her seat on the School Committee to accept a position with Hopkinton Youth & Family Services as its first resource counselor/case manager.

“The role’s key responsibility is to enhance equity for residents through the provision of community outreach and case management services,” Khumalo explained. “Services will focus on individuals furthest from opportunity and those for whom traditional social service systems and programs are not accessible.”

Morand explained that she had to resign from the School Committee because there would be a conflict of interest with the new position. She will, however, be able to retain her position as chair of the Commission on Disability.

Maureen McKeon was confirmed as the town’s new procurement and grants manager, having previously worked in Framingham and Worcester. She told the Select Board that she was attracted to Hopkinton because she missed working in a small town, having begun her career working in Stow. She also admitted that she researches grant opportunities in her spare time.

“It’s a much-needed position, and it’s a big one,” said Select Board member Mary Jo LaFreniere. “Much will be expected of you.”

In related news, the Select Board appointed Ken Weismantel as the Republican representative on the Board of Registrars in a 3-1 vote over James Mirabile. LaFreniere voted in opposition.

During the public comment period, LaFreniere recognized former Select Board member Dick Gooding, who died unexpectedly on Oct. 16, for his service to the town. She pointed out his dedication to veterans in particular as the host of a local cable program that allowed them to share their stories of service.

Said LaFreniere: “He made really great contributions to the veterans, to the Board of Selectmen — to the town in general — and he is missed.”

The board also accepted the resignation of Navdeep Arora from the Planning Board.

Volunteer service recognized

Two longtime volunteers received recognition from the board: Kathy Gooley and Jack Palitsch.

Parks & Recreation Commission chair Dan Terry praised Gooley for running the middle school’s ski program for more than 10 years and continuing to volunteer long after her children left the program. She recently stepped down from leading the program, which was filled to capacity and had a waiting list.

“Over the years, Kathy has made our ski program what it is today; not just a program that teaches kids how to ski, but also a program that instills in our participants independence, conflict resolution, acceptance of others and being accountable for their own actions,” according to a recoomendation letter submitted by department coordinator Colleen Allen

“I hope the kids in Hopkinton and the families appreciate the work that Kathy has done,” added Allen  “I think she has given thousands of kids the opportunity to go and ski, always with a smile.”

Director of Senior Services Amy Beck recognized Palitsch, who is 95 years old. Since he moved to town more than 30 years ago, she said he has been “of incredible assistance” not only to older residents but also to various town committees “behind the scenes.”

“I think that the biggest thing we can say is Jack is a jack of all trades,” she said. She noted that he works to refurbish donated wheelchairs and rollators (walkers) and takes on any needed tasks at the Senior Center. Over the years, he also has raised between $75,000-$100,000 for the Friends of Hopkinton Seniors by recycling cans and bottles.

Said chair Muriel Kramer: “It’s incredible how much one person’s constant, continuous investment over time can really make a huge difference for the seniors and for the town.”

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