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Confusion delays hiring of Veterans' Affairs officer

Feb. 21, 2013
By Chris Maza


LONGMEADOW — The search for a new Veterans' Affairs officer has been stalled by confusion regarding some applicants.

Acting Town Manager Barry Del Castilho explained to Reminder Publications that he has elected not to fill that opening before selecting someone to fill the vacant director of adult services position.

"There was some confusion because it appears that some of the applicants applied for both positions," Del Castilho said.

Longmeadow veterans have been without a Veterans' Affairs officer since July 2012 when Jason Dieni left the town for a new position at the Naval Undersea Warfare Center in Newport, R.I.

The town posted what it advertised as a full-time, 30-hour a week position on Nov. 30, 2012. Applications for the position were accepted through Dec. 14, 2012.

The posting for the position of director of adult services, a job with duties that include overseeing veterans' services, the Council on Aging and the Greenwood Senior Center, closed on Feb. 6 and those candidates are currently being reviewed, Del Castilho said.

Del Castilho added that it was his understanding that there had been some level of discussion about the town entering into a regional agreement with East Longmeadow to share a Veterans' Affairs officer, but he was not privy to those conversations and referred all specific questions to Select Board Chair Paul Santaniello.

A message left for Santaniello was not returned as of press time, but Santaniello had previously told a group of veterans at the Greenwood Adult Center that the town would explore the options of hiring its own agent and entering into a regional situation simultaneously. He said described the regional option as "a backup."

Vice Chair Mark Gold said the town has been exploring regional options including the Veterans' Services District of Eastern Hampden County and it was his understanding from talking with Santaniello that there had been some talk with East Longmeadow about forming a region.

Officials from East Longmeadow and Longmeadow had discussed a regional situation prior to the hiring of Dieni. East Longmeadow has since joined the Veterans' Services District of Eastern Hampden County.

East Longmeadow Board of Selectmen chair Paul Federici said that he has not yet had any substantial discussions regarding regionalization recently.

"We discussed it informally at the [Massachusetts Municipal Association] meeting in January," he said. "I ran the idea past Paul Santaniello at that time."

Federici explained that East Longmeadow has until May to decide whether it wants to remain with its current district or find another solution to its veterans' services needs.

"We have a timeline that we have to follow in order to opt out," he said. "We're toying with the idea of regionalization and I plan on having those conversations [with Longmeadow] soon."

Gold said that the research the town has done has shown that financially, there would not be a substantial difference between the town hiring its own agent or joining a regional group.

"It's a nice situation to be in because it means that in the end, cost will not be a determining factor, but rather which option would best serve the residents of Longmeadow," he said.

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