By Alex Bloom
NORTH ANDOVER — The town manager search committee will likely have more than 60 applications to consider as it begins its job looking for a successor to Mark Rees.
The five-member committee met last Wednesday for the first time and selected former Selectman James Xenakis as its chairman.
At that meeting the committee already had a stack of 20 resumes to review.
"We're all just looking to keep the process moving in a positive direction," Xenakis said. "I think everybody's really focused on doing the job diligently."
The committee, whose members also include residents Linda Routhier McHugh, Ted Tripp, Peter Kooken, and Carrie Crouch, are working with consultant Thomas Groux of Groux and Associates of North Chatham to review the applications.
Groux also oversaw the search in 2000 to hire Rees, who left June 30 to become city manager in Portland, Maine.
Groux said he had received about 50 town manager applications by Monday's deadline, but expects to receive 60 with some trickling in afterward.
"It's hard for me to assess them right now," Groux said. "I think there are some good candidates in the whole field."
Xenakis said he believes the committee will be able to find a new town manager from its pool of applicants.
School Superintendent Christopher Hottel joined the committee meeting as a non-voting liaison from the school department. Xenakis said he did not know if Hottel would be the school district's representative at future meetings but welcomed Hottel's presence.
"Certainly our preference is to have the school chief involved very much in the process," Xenakis said. "Everybody on the committee values his input and feedback."
Groux said the search process is on target to pick a new town manager by October. The committee's next meeting is Wednesday.
James Purcell, the former town manager of Norton, is serving as interim town manager.