Walker Powell named community development director in Orange

By DOMENIC POLI

Staff Writer

Published: 03-26-2023 4:00 PM

ORANGE — The woman hired by Orange in January 2022 to be the town’s planning technician was this week appointed as the community development director.

Walker Powell, attending Wednesday’s Selectboard meeting remotely, received a unanimous vote to be appointed to the position, which carries a $70,227 salary. Gabriele “Gabe” Voelker, who earlier this month retired as town administrator and treasurer, told Selectboard members she had spoken privately with Powell and suggested she earn the same amount as former Community Development Director Alec Wade, who left for a new job in November. Voelker said Wade and Powell “basically have the same master’s degree,” with the former’s degree in planning and the latter’s in landscape design and planning.

Voelker, who retired on March 3 but is billing Orange for the hours she works as acting town administrator while the municipality finds a replacement, said Walker has a year and a half of experience. She noted that Wade, whom she has routinely praised for his work ethic and talent, had no professional experience when he became Orange’s first community development director in November 2019.

Powell is a graduate of the Conway School of Landscape Design. She also graduated from Smith College and originally aspired to become a botanist. Voelker said Powell has a year and a half remaining before obtaining her American Institute of Certified Planners license.

“I enjoy working here and I want to keep working here,” Powell said when Selectboard Chair Tom Smith asked if she would like to make a comment.

“Walker, welcome to your position,” Smith said after the vote. “We want to welcome you aboard, and we want to thank you so much for everything you’ve done and I know you will continue to do great things for the town of Orange.”

Reach Domenic Poli at: dpoli@recorder.com or 413-930-4120.

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