Former Orange Health Agent becomes new town administrator


  • Matthew Fortier has signed on as the new Orange town administrator. STAFF PHOTO/DOMENIC POLI

Staff Writer
Published: 8/7/2023 4:02:40 PM
Modified: 8/7/2023 4:02:44 PM

ORANGE — The town’s health agent has signed on to become the new town administrator, putting to bed a four-month saga that saw two previous candidates have their offers rescinded for undisclosed reasons.

Matthew Fortier will take the reins on Aug. 21, earning $100,000 a year, which Selectboard Chair Tom Smith said is on the lower end of the salary range for town administrator positions in municipalities the size of Orange.

“(I’m) glad to have all the busywork out of the way, the interviews done, negotiations over,” Fortier said following Friday’s meeting, when he signed his three-year contract. “Tonight was just about coming in, signing and moving on.”

Town Administrator Gabriele Voelker retired on March 3, but has billed Orange for hours worked as acting town administrator. She will continue in this role until until Aug. 21 and assist further as needed.

“She has offered to help Matt at budget season, because it will be his first budget season,” Smith said.

Fortier, 31, lives in Orange and said he is looking forward to starting his new position later this month.

“I love a new challenge and, more than that, I love to learn, so [it] checks both boxes. Plus, I get to work with the Selectboard – they’re pretty awesome,” he said, smiling at nearby Smith.

Fortier explained he resigned as health agent, a job he started in March 2020, and there is interim coverage until his replacement is selected. Smith said the job opening has been posted. Fortier must also step down as moderator before Aug. 21.

“You cannot hold an elected position and take a new appointed position,” said Fortier, who been in contact with the State Ethics Commission. “I had an appointed position [health agent] so I was able to run [for moderator]. But it doesn’t work the other way around.”

Fortier ran uncontested for the moderator position in March, replacing Christopher Woodcock, who decided to not run for re-election after a 35-year career of one-year terms. Fortier’s wife, Rachael Fortier, can remain assistant town clerk because she was appointed by the elected town clerk.

The incoming town administrator earned a bachelor’s degree in environmental science from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and a master’s in business administration from Fitchburg State University.

Foriter was chosen over fellow finalist Rebecca Lisi, a former Holyoke City Councilor who ran for mayor in 2021, and was considered very qualified by the Orange Selectboard. At the final interviews during the June 28 Selectboard meeting, Fortier mentioned he would prioritize development around the Daniel Shays Highway if he was chosen. He cited the former Rodney Hunt Fontaine Inc. factory as having great potential.

Touching on a topic from the first round of interviews, Selectboard member Jane Peirce asked Fortier about his management style.

“I like to try to be as open as possible, and I do like an open-door policy,” he replied, adding that employees should always go to their direct supervisor instead of bypassing that person.

The long and winding road

The board had voted unanimously in mid-April to offer the job to Kevin Flynn before doing the same with Carter Terenzini in late May after restarting the process. Tom Smith has declined to say why the offers were rescinded.

Flynn had served as town administrator in Sandisfield, in Berkshire County, from Nov. 22, 2021, until he resigned in March 2022, due to a two-hour commute and an inability to find housing in the area, according to the Berkshire Eagle. Terenzini generated controversy as Spencer Town Administrator in 2007 when he distributed to municipal employees, Selectboard members and colleagues a memorandum in which he admitted to an affair with a woman he supervised. He was later removed from consideration for the town manager position in Oberlin, Ohio, when the affair and his failure to disclose it came to light, according to the Telegram & Gazette in Worcester.

“I’m ecstatic that we found a candidate that will do, I think, an outstanding job,” Smith said about Fortier. “It’s not just about filling the position. I’m glad that part is over, but it’s a matter of the person we found to fill it. It took us a little while to do it but I’m glad that we did what we did. We needed to make sure we had the right person.”

Reach Domenic Poli at: or 413-930-4120.

E-Edition & Local Ads


athol forecast

Social Media

Athol Daily News

14 Hope Street,
Greenfield, MA 01301
Telephone: (413) 772-0261


Copyright © 2021 by Newspapers of Massachusetts, Inc.