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He's not your average temp

Racicot interrupts retirement to fill Sturbridge post

Sturbridge’s Interim Town Administrator Michael Racicot, began work in the temporary Town Hall complex on Monday. Racicot will be overseeing Sturbridge’s municipal operations through early December. Christopher Tanguay. (click for larger version)
July 13, 2009
STURBRIDGE — Monday marked the first day of the interim town administrator's six-month run.

Michael Racicot — whose retirement from the town administrator's post in Rockport only became official on Monday as well — had a placard engraved with his name set on the town administrator's desk, starting the countdown to the day a permanent replacement for former administrator James Malloy is announced.

"I can only hold this job until Dec. 18," Racicot said, explaining that as a retiree, he can only work in this full-time capacity for a maximum of 960 hours.

In those 960 hours though, Racicot has a lot to deal with.

Before settling in here in Sturbridge, Racicot toured the town with Malloy, learning about different issues, such as the Burgess Elementary School and Town Hall/Center Office building projects and the water connection to neighboring Southbridge, for which he just opened bids at 2 p.m. on his first day.

"It's a tough job," Racicot said of managing a municipality, "but the challenges and the interests — it's so interesting — I do enjoy it."

Prior to his time in Rockport, Racicot served as town in Orange and department of public works director in Lenox.

"You do learn as time goes on," Racicot said about prioritizing responsibilities. "You learn what's important and not important."

After visiting several of the projects at hand, Racicot he will spend the next couple weeks meeting with various department heads to get a grasp on the inner workings of the town and the needs of each department.

"They've got really good department heads, and everybody's really helping me out by answering my questions," he said.

The transition, Racicot anticipates, will be a smooth one.

"It's nothing that's stuff I haven't faced before," he said of the all the irons in the fire, citing similar projects he has worked on such as renovations to Mahar Regional High School in Orange and a 50-percent upgrade to a sewer plant while working in Lenox. "Sturbridge's been well managed up 'til now," he added.

Still getting up to speed on recent hot button debates like the decision to renovate the Town Hall and the Center School buildings, or the decision to endorse the State Department of Fish and Wildlife's Hamant Brook restoration project, Racicot is ready to jump into another widely debated topic: the possibility of a school resource officer at Tantasqua Regional High School.

Racicot will attend a meeting of the School Committee, Board of Selectmen and Finance Committee on Wednesday, July 29.

"We'll look at the facts, get the details and we'll see what the School Committee has to say," Racicot said. "There'll be an outcome," he continued, saying that he aims to find a reasonable compromise to any issue between town bodies. "Whether everyone's happy, remains to be seen."

Outside of work

Racicot is a native of Agawam who completed his undergraduate and graduate work in public administration at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

He currently lives in Beverly with his "longtime sweetheart," of nine years to whom he is engaged to be married.

Upon his permanent retirement from the work force, Racicot plans to move to Hot Springs, Ark.

"Winter has beat me up," he joked.

In the good weather, Racicot is an avid motorcyclist.

"I like to take cross-country trips on my BMW motorcycle," he said.

Excited about serving in a new town, with new issues, Racicot said, "I'm excited by it, it's a nice challenge."

No longer working ocean side, Racicot added, "It's nice to see some hills."

News staff writer Christopher Tanguay may be reached at (508) 909-4132, or by e-mail at ctanguay@stonebridgepress.com.

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