Leyden hires new town clerk, administrative assistant

JANELL HOWARD

JANELL HOWARD

PAUL McLATCHY III

PAUL McLATCHY III

By JULIAN MENDOZA

Staff Writer

Published: 10-08-2023 12:57 PM

LEYDEN — This fall looks to be a season of change in some respects for Leyden, which has welcomed two new municipal employees.

The Selectboard hired Paul McLatchy III as the new town clerk and Janell Howard as the new administrative assistant on Sept. 18 after interviewing each for their respective positions on Sept. 5.

Town clerk

McLatchy, who Selectboard member Glenn Caffery referred to as a “dream hire,” comes to Leyden after having served as Rowe’s town clerk for about four years. He was forced to not seek reelection in Rowe after he bought a house in North Adams, as Rowe’s town clerks are elected and are required to live in town.

“It’s true, I didn’t want to leave Rowe, but I’m very excited to re-enter the town clerk world in Leyden,” McLatchy wrote in an email. “While it’s a little bit bigger, Leyden is still a very small town, which reminds me a lot of Rowe. I have really missed this line of work for the past few months, and this just seemed like a wonderful chance to get back into it.”

McLatchy currently serves as town administrator for Ashfield, a position he plans to maintain. He also served on the Rowe Selectboard from November 2009 to May 2013. McLatchy earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and public policy from the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts in North Adams.

“The town clerk role in Massachusetts is central to many of the most important functions of government — elections, meetings, bylaws, taxes, planning, record keeping — and to get a supremely qualified person for a 10-hour-per-week job in a tiny town is super hard,” Caffery wrote in an email. “Paul knows the importance of networking with other town clerks and building relationships with other town officials. From various other past and present roles, he brings deep awareness of municipal government and, by all accounts, extraordinary interpersonal skills that will be of huge value in Leyden.”

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McLatchy believes his previous experience will help him be able to “hit the ground running” in Leyden.

“I won’t have to completely re-learn the job, and I already know of systems that seem to work well, so I don’t have to figure out an approach to the work,” McLatchy wrote. “Obviously, it will take time to learn who the people are and the workings of Leyden government, but I can start digging in much sooner than I did when I was in Rowe.”

McLatchy planned to begin training with Leyden’s temporary town clerk, Amanda Lynch, on Oct. 4. His first official public office hours will be on Wednesday, Oct. 11. Once he’s started, he will work part-time at an average of eight to 10 hours per week, fluctuating based on need, election responsibilities, various projects and more. He will be paid an hourly rate of $27.50.

Administrative assistant

Howard, who moved to Leyden from Alpine, Utah, fills an altogether new position that was established by a vote at Annual Town Meeting this year. In advance of Town Meeting, Caffery said the new position would aid the town in securing additional grant funding and will also take some of the load off Municipal Assistant Michele Giarusso. Voters approved budgeting $24,700 for the new position.

The new role, intended for “providing guidance and aid to the town departments and committees,” involves providing legal advice to town officials, coordinating town spending, preparing and processing paperwork, and public communication, according to the job description.

“Leyden is no different from most tiny towns in how thinly everyone is stretched, and this new position is expected to give us capacity to make satisfying progress toward our collective goals,” Caffery explained. “This position will be public facing and will interact with all of the town boards and officials.”

Howard, who was drawn to Leyden for its climate and vast farmland, said she is used to a “much busier” environment, having lived about 30 miles away from Salt Lake City. Moving somewhere slower-paced doesn’t mean she’s just looking to relax, however.

“I wanted to be involved with the town,” Howard said of her motivation to pursue the administrative assistant role.

She explained she served “for quite a number of years” as a board member for nonprofit independent school Thomas Nelson Leadership Academy, an experience she said had fostered numerous skills that will translate well to her new role. She also owned and operated a child care business for three years.

“Her references described a love of learning, a gift for seeing the best in people, the highest integrity as steward of other people’s money, and a history of improving policies and bylaws to be more efficient or better safeguard against fraud,” Caffery wrote. “They also described her time management and organizational skills in glowing terms, and described several instances where she drew from a wide spectrum of technologies to choose tools to meet particular needs.”

Howard said she will work 19 hours per week at a rate of $21 per hour. She began her work on Tuesday, Oct. 3.

Reach Julian Mendoza at 413-930-4231 or jmendoza@recorder.com.