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Wenham's Chelgren Is Top Pick for Marblehead Administrator Job

The Marblehead Board of Selectmen on Wednesday night unanimously chose Jeff Chelgren, currently Wenham's town administrator, to become the next town administrator of Marblehead.

Wenham Town Administrator Jeff Chelgren was selected Wednesday night as the new Marblehead Town Administrator.

Chelgren, of Lynn, was the Marblehead Board of Selectmen’s unanimous top choice to take over after the planned retirement of current Marblehead Town Administrator Tony Sasso this spring.

Chelgren has been Wenham town administrator for 10 years, after serving as assistant town manager and land use director in Westford. He was for a new Town Administrator in November.

It was not immediately clear on Wednesday night what the first move will be for Wenham to fill the spot.

Chelgren still needs to negotiate a contract with the Marblehead Board of Selectmen. The board did not say when they planned to have Chelgren start on the job.

"I'm hoping this will be the last location of my career," Chelgren said during his interview with Marblehead Selectmen at on Wednesday night. "I'd like to settle in and really make a mark on this community. I’d like to last out my career and really close it out with a bang."

When board members asked Chelgren what he would aim to accomplish in his first 90 days in office, he said his efforts would be focused on researching the issues facing the town and familiarizing himself with community leaders.

"It’s interesting, in a career like this one you really start to make changes by year five," Chelgren said, "and if you can work hard enough to keep that momentum going past year 7, it really helps you to make a lasting impact."

Chelgren listed being a nearby resident among the reasons he felt he would be a good pick for the Marblehead's top post, describing Marblehead as a "precious jewel."

"I am a patron of and have always kept my eye on the town and the way it has been managed," Chelgren said. "Marblehead is such an admirable community and this has been an opportunity that I've been long waiting for...I'd love to use my skills to help further the goals and objectives of Marblehead."

Chelgren was paid $93,899 last year. It was not immediately known what he would be paid in Marblehead.

Chelgren will take the reins from Sasso when he retires in the spring after 18 years on the job. Sasso was recently selected as the Marblehead Chamber of Commerce's Man of the Year.

Board members confirmed that Sasso has said he will stick around after he retires to help Chelgren get a handle on things.

"I consider myself a 24/7 guy," Chelgren said when asked how much time he would put into the position. "The thing I've always loved about this profession is that it's never boring and it's always changing."

In , Chelgren was actually criticized for working too much.

Selectman John Clemenzi said Chelgren should delegate more tasks and then-Selectman Harriet Davis said she too often saw Chelgren’s truck parked outside on weekends, a time when she said he should “recharge his batteries.”

Chelgren was actually scheduled to get his latest review when the Wenham Board of Selectmen meet next week.

Also appearing before the Marblehead board on Wednesday was hopeful Thomas Younger, 55, who is currently serving as interim Town Manager in Ipswich. Younger and before that was the Town Administrator in North Reading for 10 years.

Wednesday's interviews were conducted by Marblehead board members James Nye and Judith Jacobi and Chairwoman Jackie Belf-Becker. Harry Christiensen Jr. and Bret Murray have recused themselves to avoid a potential conflict of interest because they have either a spouse or family member that work for the town under an union contract which is negotiated with the Town Administrator.

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