Officials highlight progress, challenges at inauguration

Officials highlight progress, challenges at inauguration

Former North Smithfield Town Administrator Elizabeth Faricy, left, swears in the new Town Council at the Inauguration of North Smithfield’s recently elected officials. The councilors are, from left, Terri Bartomioli, Douglas Osier Jr., Claire O’Hara, Paul Vadenais and Paul Zwolenski. (Breeze photos by Bill Murphy)

NORTH SMITHFIELD – With a look to the future, North Smithfield’s elected officials reflected on the accomplishments of the past two years but also the challenges that lie ahead at Saturday’s inauguration ceremony.

Town Administrator Gary Ezovski, who was sworn in for a second two-year term after running unopposed, recalled some of the issues facing the town when he first took office in 2016. While some, such as a legal dispute with Woonsocket over wastewater treatment fees, a lack of resource officers in the schools and aging fire and rescue equipment, have since been resolved, others, like building projects on several municipal properties, remain far from complete as they move into another year.

Ezovski named seeing building projects through to completion, improving town roads and continuing to expand the town’s financial resources through job and tax growth among his priorities for the next term. He also noted this would be his last term, as he does not intend to seek re-election in 2020.

“As I indicated prior to the election, these next two years will be my last as administrator,” he told residents. “I am committed to making them equally as productive as the past two. My overarching goal is to equally face and to strive to resolve every issue of every day while making North Smithfield ready for its tomorrows.”

Members of the newly elected Town Council were also sworn in on Saturday, including new members Douglas Osier Jr. and Paul Vadenais, who took their seats alongside incumbents Teresa Bartomioli, Claire O’Hara and Paul Zwolenski. The new members replaced former Town Council President John Beauregard, who was not elected to a second term, and former Councilor Thomas McGee, who did not run for re-election.

The ceremony included a brief organizational meeting during which councilors unanimously elected Vadenais as council president. A newcomer to the Town Council, Vadenais has previously served in several elected or appointed town positions, including a 15-year stint on the School Committee from 1995 to 2010. Zwolenski, a 14-year councilor currently beginning his eighth term, was re-elected as vice president.

Newly elected School Committee members William Connell and Paul Jones also took their seats on Saturday, though neither member is new to the committee. Jones ran for an elected four-year term after his appointed two-year term expired this year, while Connell served on the committee previously, finishing his prior term in 2016. The two members joined Chairman James Lombardi, Vice Chairwoman Jean Meo and Secretary Margaret Votta, all of whom have two years left to serve in their elected terms and were re-elected to their leadership roles.

On Monday, Ezovski and members of the Town Council announced their picks for the committee’s two appointed positions. Francesca Johannis, who lost her bid for an elected position after serving two years in as an appointed member, will remain on the committee, reappointed to another two-year term by the Town Council. For his appointment, Ezovski selected former School Committee Chairwoman Christine Charest. Johannis and Charest will be the last appointed members to serve on the committee, as voters approved a charter amendment removing the two positions beginning in 2020.

Both Town Council and School Committee members noted the cooperation between the boards over the past two years in their remarks Saturday night, expressing a hope that the different branches of government can continue to work together. With renovations underway at the North Smithfield Elementary School and Halliwell Memorial School scheduled to close at the end of the year, along with building projects at the former Kendall Dean school and Municipal Annex building, officials anticipate some difficult transitions in the months ahead.

“I believe that the School Department will be one of the biggest challenges the town will face during this term,” said Vadenais. “With the changing education paradigm of competing for students in CTE programs, a building renovation project and obviously the budget, there’s a lot happening.”

“We don’t always agree and sometimes the arguments get a little tough,” added Lombardi. “You know what, we move, we try to do what’s best, what we think is best for our town, and we’re OK the next day.”

On Monday, the new Town Council took up the expiring terms of North Smithfield's appointed officials as one of its first responsibilities, and reappointed a long list of volunteer and paid positions on various town boards and departments. In addition to School Committee members and the paid positions of solicitor and assistant solicitor, councilors reappointed members of the Planning Board, Zoning Board, Historic District Commission and Public Safety Commission. Some positions remain to be filled by new members, with councilors and Ezovski expressing plans to address them at a future meeting.

Positions reappointed by the Town Council on Monday included:

• Town Solicitor: David Igliozzi

• Assistant Town Solicitor: Stephen Archambault

• Probate Court Judge: Robert Rossi

• Municipal Court Judge: Aram Jarret Jr.

• Municipal Court Administrator: Captain Tim Lafferty

• Municipal Court Clerk: Darleen Bourgette

• Budget Committee: Philip Godfrin

• Juvenile Hearing Board: John Sutherland, Maureen Donnelly

• Planning Board: Richard Keene

• Public Safety Commission: Sean Rousseau

• Sewer Commission: Russell Houde

• Zoning Board: Scott Martin, Michael Amalfitano (first alternate), Gail Denomme (second alternate)

Positions reappointed by the town administrator on Monday included:

• Public Safety Director: Gary Ezovski

• Environmental Advocate: Gary Ezovski

Parks and Recreation Commission (with Town Council approval): William Nangle, Anthony Guertin, Michael Mascellino, Michael Desrochers, Steven Vowels, Arthur Eddy

New School Committee members William Connell, left, and Paul Jones are sworn in during the inauguration.

Comments

When you put politics aside and work together your doing the peoples work that you were elected to do. Time will tell