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Serving the communities of Massena and Potsdam, New York

Potsdam loses code officer; Colton gains DPW superintendent

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Darren T. Richards is resigning from both of his part-time code enforcement positions in the towns of Potsdam and Colton. The Colton Town Board appointed Mr. Richards as the new Department of Public Works superintendent Wednesday night. Mr. Richards will make $48,000 a year in his new full-time Colton position.

“I think the world of Potsdam and Colton,” Mr. Richards said. “I’ve decided what’s best for my family is a full-time job versus two part-time jobs.”

Mr. Richards had served as a Colton code enforcement officer for two years. But he has only served in his Potsdam capacity for one month. The Potsdam town board voted unanimously in March to appoint Mr. Richards to the new position for up to 15 hours per week at a rate of $14.10 an hour.

Supervisor Marie C. Regan had said the town set aside funds for the new position during the 2011-2012 budget process. Hiring an additional officer was also a recommendation of the Potsdam Dissolution Committee, she said.

Potsdam’s only other town code officer, James Plumley, often finds himself split between his in-office and outside duties, Ms. Regan said. Potsdam’s large student rental population requires Mr. Plumley to complete frequent off-site inspections and necessitates a second person to handle the workload.

Mr. Richards said he did not know when he took the Potsdam position last month he would be in line for the Colton gig within a few weeks.

“Marie has been fantastic,” he said of Ms. Regan’s willingness to work with his resignation.

Ms. Regan said she was disappointed Mr. Richards left after a month, but understood his need to secure a full-time position for his family. The town has contacted St. Lawrence County for a list of eligible Civil Service applicants for the position. The town board will start from square one again, she said.

“He’s trying to help us for the next week or two,” Ms. Regan said “It’s an opportunity for him ... We’re going to have to look for somebody else. It’s as simple as that.”

The Colton board had advertised for the DPW superintendent’s position. During an over two-hour long session on April 3, the board interviewed the final three candidates for the job.

The Colton board appointed retired code officer Daniel McNamara to serve as interim CEO at a rate of $18 an hour. The town board accepted Mr. McNamara’s resignation Wednesday night as chairman of the town’s planning board.

Supervisor Lawrence C. Patzwald said Mr. McNamara resigned from the planning board to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest. After checking with the state, Colton could legally have the code enforcement officer serve on the planning board too, he said.

“It looks like an obvious conflict of interest,” he said. “Since it has an appearance of a conflict of interest we thought the best thing to do was accept his resignation.”

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