Manager On Board

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By Patrick Cronin

Hampton Union, Tuesday, March 13, 2007

[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]

 Fred Welch stands in front of the Hampton Town Office on Monday on his first day as the new Hampton Town Manager.
[Photo by Rich Beauchesne]

HAMPTON -- Former Seabrook Town Manager Fred Welch was all smiles Monday morning after he was officially sworn in as town manger of Hampton.

Town employees welcomed Welch with a pot-luck breakfast after his swearing in ceremony. Welch, who served as Seabrook's town manager the last four years, was hired by selectmen in January.

"I'm looking forward to moving forward in a positive manner with the employees to solve the communities problems," Welch said after he was officially sworn in by Town Clerk Arleen Andreozzi.

Before coming to Seabrook, Welch served as town manager in three other New Hampshire towns -- Pittsfield, Belmont and New London. He also spent 21 years working in municipal government in Massachusetts.

Welch said while it was tough saying goodbye to Seabrook, he looks forward to making new friends and the challenges that await in Hampton.

"Any job you leave, especially if you enjoyed it, it's emotional," Welch said. "And it was very tough leaving. But the community here has been so wonderful. I've been out looking for houses and have been able to meet a lot of people in town. They have been very supportive and encouraging."

Welch said he will have a better idea on what issues he will soon face as town manager after today's election, where voters are being asked to approve the selectmen's recommended $24.7 million budget.

"I hope the budget passes because you can only continue on a default budget for so long," Welch said. "As I stressed in Seabrook, about 15 percent of the budget is non-employee related and you can only cut so much of the 15 percent before you have to start laying off employees."

Welch would also like to see the town complete negotiations with the six unions in town on new three-year contracts.

Several town employees said they were happy Welch was starting including Town Attorney Mark Gearreald, who has been working double duty as the town's interim town manger.

Selectmen appointed Gearreald to the position in August after receiving the resignation of James Barrington, who decided to move back to his home state of Texas.

"I'm very pleased to have Fred here," Gearreald said. "He has tons of experience and I think we are lucky to have him."

Public Works Director John Hangen called it a "new beginning for Hampton."

"I look forward to Fred starting particularly because he knows the Seacoast having managed Seabrook for the last four years," Hangen said. "I think it's a natural fit and we are all looking forward to helping him start."

Selectman Rick Griffin said he's happy the town will once again have a full-time manager.

"I think it's a great day for Hampton," Selectman Jim Workman said. "I think Fred Welch is going to be a very good town manager. I felt that when we hired him. I think he was the best candidate for the job."

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