Ashland, MA Town Manager Michael Herbert

ASHLAND — They say Michael Herbert can do a lot with little, and he keeps getting recognized by his community as an innovator.

In Michael’s July 21st Newsletter, his latest insights include: “A few months ago, I asked readers if they thought a Citizens Academy would be something residents would be interested and want to take part in. The overwhelming feedback I received let me know that this is something you would like us to put together. I am pleased to say that Assistant Town Manager Jenn Ball and I are working on one to be held in late fall or early spring. More information will follow.”

And from Michael’s July 19th, 10am Coffee Hour, “…we had a great discussion at the Coffee Hour at the Community Center. This week residents asked about the Pond Street project (with a special focus on the roundabout), the Valentine Estate, the upcoming vote to get out of Civil Service, and private party development projects throughout the town. You don’t have to be a senior citizen to take part in the discussion! We meet at the Community Center on the third Wednesday of the month at 10AM. We would love to see you there.

This past week was pretty light in terms of the number of municipal meetings. It was great to present to the Historical Commission Monday on the progress of the Valentine Barn and get a professional historic preservationist’s perspective on the work being done. And we had our third Comprehensive Plan Steering Committee meeting last night and am encouraged by the steps we are taking to prepare for Ashland’s future. With regards to the latter, I am pleased to say that we have a fully executed contract with a consultant to help with that work.”

From his acumen handling the coronavirus pandemic to his management and communication skills working with the finance and school committees in developing sound budgets, Town Manager Michael Herbert received high marks on his yearly evaluation.

Since the Select Board has the responsibility of hiring the town counsel and the town manager positions, every year, an evaluation is conducted to review the person’s strengths and weaknesses.

The town manager is evaluated based on 10 criteria – personal characteristics, professionalism, public relations/communications, board support/relations, community leadership, organizational leadership, personal management, financial management, operations, and infrastructure planning.

The Select Board praised Herbert for his handling of the pandemic, specifically for the creation of the Covid-19 task force as well as his financial management skills in helping the town avoid any layoffs or termination of town services.

“Michael is a strong Town Manger for Ashland and always puts the well-being of the residents and his staff above his personal interests,” Select Board member Brandi Kinsman is quoted saying in the summary. “He is a trusted member of the community and a trusted partner to the Select Board. He has assembled a strong leadership team and has shown prudent judgement to fiscal decisions. Under Michael’s leadership, Ashland is well-positioned for the future.”

Mitchell also made mention of the community assessment survey the town conducted in collaboration with the National Research Center.

“Michael has shown real growth in his position as town manager over the last year,” Select Board member Yolanda Greaves is quoted saying in the summary. “In most instances he exceeds the job standards and at times is outstanding in his dealings with issues. I enjoy working with Michael and find him to be a real asset to the town of Ashland.”

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