LITTLETON — After 5 1/2 years as town manager, Andrew Dorsett has announced his resignation.
Dorsett, one of the longest-serving town managers in Littleton, which has had a town manager form of government since 1976, will become the administrator for Grafton County in North Haverhill in February.
His last day in Littleton is Feb. 16.
On Wednesday, Dorsett publicly announced his departure during a meeting with the budget committee.
Committee members expressed their gratitude in working with him and said his departure will be a loss.
“Thank you,” said Diane Cummings, chair of the budget committee. “We have appreciated all your help and direction. I’m really going to miss you. Good luck in your new position and come back and visit.”
Dorsett said a few factors went into his decision to depart for Grafton County, where he will replace Julie Libby, the longtime county administrator who will become county finance director.
“I wasn’t really looking for anything,” he said. “I love Littleton, I love the people, the businesses, and there’s a great energy and a great spirit here … It’s been a pleasure working with all of you. Thank you so much for all that you do.”
From a professional standpoint, there are numerous existing projects in Littleton and the pace of the job can be fast, said Dorsett, who lives with his family in Lyman.
“Part of it is there’s just too much to do here,” he said. “I think you need somebody a little bit younger and with little more energy … We did do a staffing analysis, which I provided the board, and [the analysis is] really saying you have to get a deputy town manager, you’ve got to get a community development planning director … I gave them a plan to come up where they need to be in the next three or four years.”
In the meantime, Dorsett has offered to help Littleton selectmen in any way he can as they commence the search for a new town manager.
On Monday, Dorsett spoke with The Caledonian-Record about his time in Littleton and what he enjoyed about being town manager, pleasures that include working with all the community and volunteer groups and being part of the effort to move the town in a positive direction, including tax rate stabilization, which he is proud of.
“There is a community spirit that exists in Littleton and I’m excited to see what lies ahead,” he said. “I’ll miss being a part of the community and being as good of a steward as I can of the community’s assets.”
Dorsett, who lived in Vermont, is a former town administrator for Bradford and a former Groton selectman.
He assumed town manager duties in Littleton, replacing Moody, in September 2015 after being the assistant town manager for Barre, Vt.
In New Hampshire, Dorsett, who holds a master’s degree in public administration, was also a town administrator for Warren and a former New Hampshire state representative.
In his half decade as Littleton’s town manager, which included grant writing, Dorsett brought his passion for economic development and introduced prospective developers to opportunities in Littleton, helped steer the river district redevelopment project that began a decade ago, was a key player in advancing the plan to upgrade the town’s water and sewer infrastructure, and more recently helped establish a citizens commission to revitalize the Apthorp area of town and a new cultural arts commission.
“Whoever steps in has big shoes to fill,” said Carrie Gendreau, chair of the Littleton Board of Selectmen. “With any personnel, there are always those that are quick to criticize, but unless you are sitting in that seat nobody has any idea. He has done so many good things for Littleton and brought a good perspective and kept the momentum going. For anyone stepping in, he has paved the way with so many ideas. What he’s done has been amazing … Littleton has by far some of the best visionaries. In looking for a new town manager, we want to make sure that person has vision, too.”
For Dorsett’s successor, a search committee has been established that includes former Selectman Milton Bratz, Town Moderator Gerald Winn, and Littleton Industrial Development Corp. President Greg Eastman.
River District Redevelopment Commission Chair John Hennessey will join when candidate interviews begin, and Cummings has been asked to join as she will be working closely with the next town manager, said Gendreau.
“Of course, the selectmen will be part of it was well and we will ask the different department heads if they want to be a part of it,” she said. “We really want to get their input.”
Although the town hasn’t really put the position out there, there have already been a half dozen resumes submitted, including one from Arizona, another from Texas, one from Pennsylvania, and an interested candidate in New Hampshire, said Gendreau.
“A couple are already standing out, so that’s good,” she said.
Former Littleton Town Manager Fred Moody, now retired, was contacted to see if he would serve temporarily, but he cannot because of personal commitments, said Gendreau.
Retired Haverhill Town Manager Glenn English was also contacted to see if he would serve as interim in Littleton, but he is busy with his family opening a pub in Woodsville, she said.
Going forward, a decision will be made on whether the new hire will be an interim town manager or a permanent manager.
Dorsett did reach out to Municipal Resources Inc. to see if they have any candidates, but they do not have any at the present time.
“We are just seeing what our options are,” said Gendreau. “We will have our work cut out for us, for sure.”
Dorsett said he is ready for his next administrative post.
“I’m looking forward to really learning about the county and finding ways to bring improvements there,” he said.