WINSTED — Two new municipal employees were introduced at the Board of Selectmen’s regular meeting on Monday, Dec. 7, which was held virtually on Zoom.
At the beginning of the meeting, Terry Hall was introduced as the town’s new administrative assistant by Town Manager Robert Geiger.
Hall is replacing longtime Administrative Assistant Laurie Bessette, who is leaving the position on Friday, Dec. 18 after working for the town for 20 years.
“Terry has been working with Laurie for the past two weeks sucking up as much information as she can and as rapidly as possible,” Geiger said. “Welcome to the tribe, Terry.”
“I have big shoes to fill, but I will try my best,” Hall said to the board.
Mayor Candy Perez introduced Katie Vaill as the town’s new social services coordinator.
Perez said that Vaill’s position is being funded via a Building Healthier Communities grant through Hartford HealthCare.
The grant has allowed the town to hire a part-time social services coordinator for the next three years
“The Building Healthier Communities committee thought that it would be a good use of the funds for Winsted,” Perez said.
Geiger said that Vaill started working four weeks ago and has an office in Town Hall.
“Katie is not a social worker, she is much more than that,” Geiger said. “She is coordinating all of the various agencies in town.”
Vaill said that she has worked in the human services field for 40 years and has worked with a variety of different populations during her career.
In 2018 she earned her master’s degree in leadership in nonprofits from Springfield College in Springfield, Mass.
Vaill also owns Higher Standards, a consulting company that helps with policy work for agencies.
“There has been a variety of needs that I have come across from residents,” Vaill said. “From a senior citizen moving to Florida who needs help packing boxes, to a young man who just got sole custody of his two children and needed help with his benefits.”
In other business:
A portion of an executive session held at the meeting was broadcast on the town’s YouTube channel.
The executive session was held to discuss candidates to replace Town Manager Geiger, who announced his resignation in September.
During the executive session, which was also apparently broadcast to viewers watching on public access television, the board discussed several potential candidates, along with several different methods of attracting new candidates.
Several minutes into the executive session, Perez discovered that the executive session was being broadcast and shut off the video feed.
Coming back into regular session, Perez said that the search for Geiger’s replacement is continuing.
“We remind everybody that [Geiger] is not on a hard fixed retirement day, so we are still in good hands.”
Originally, Geiger said that he would leave the town manager position by Dec. 31.
The Winchester Police Department is dealing with COVID-related absenteeism issues, according to Geiger.
He said that the department has had several officers who had to call out sick because they were exposed to residents who tested positive for COVID.
Geiger added that the department, due to COVID, is conducting extra and frequent cleaning of its cruisers and has hired a professional cleaning organization.
According to statistics provided by the state, as of Dec. 6, Winsted has 232 total COVID cases.