Harwich Health Director Named Assistant Town Administrator

By: William F. Galvin

Health Director Meggan Eldredge has been appointed assistant town administrator. CHRONICLE FILE PHOTO

HARWICH — Health Director Meggan Eldredge will be making a transition to assistant town administrator, but she will remain as the interim health director until the town fills that position.

Town Administrator Joseph Powers Monday announced the appointment of Eldredge as assistant town administrator.

“I’ve been eagerly awaiting this moment,” Powers told selectmen. Selectmen confirmed the appointment on a 4-0 vote.

Eldredge has had a challenging year as health director dealing with constantly changing directives from the commonwealth throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, implementing local safety provisions, working with the school department and council on aging to foster protective measures for vulnerable segments of the community and working to keep the public apprised with status reports on the virus caseload.

“I was ready for a little change from public health to public administration,” Eldredge said. “Working with other department heads and departments during the COVID-19 times opened my eyes to how the town runs outside the health department. I felt I’d be good for the job.”

The town received approximately 60 applications for the assistant town administrator position. Eldredge replaces Powers, the former assistant town administrator, who served as the interim town administrator for more than a year before being appointed town administrator two weeks ago. Robert Lawton has served as a part-time interim assistant over the past year.

Eldredge has served as health director for more than three years. She served as senior health agent for the town from 2014 to 2017. She started her career working in the Brewster health department in 1999. She is presently working on a master’s degree in public health, and part of the degree focuses on public administration, she said.

“In all, Meggan brings a wealth of experience and expertise to this position gained from more than 20 years of municipal government experience,” Powers said in his announcement to selectmen. “Her work as our health director speaks for itself, but it is worth noting that she has proven to be a capable leader and a steadying influence, most especially during the entirety of the town’s past and ongoing response to all matters related to COVID-19. I am confident that Meggan and I will continue to work well together as we have over the past year directly responding to the pandemic as we move forward in service to our community.”

Selectman Chairman Larry Ballantine praised Eldredge’s ability to communicate and emphasized the importance of promoting from within the town staff. Selectman Stephen Ford said Eldredge's handling of the COVID-19 crisis provided a great opportunity to observe her abilities and assured him she would be a great candidate for the position.

“This affirms our commitment to putting females into major positions in this town,” added Selectman Donald Howell. “Every single way you measure this it’s a tremendous selection.”

The duties of the assistant town administrator include professional administration and daily operation of the town, including general management, supervision, human resources, procurement, insurance coordination and special projects. Eldredge will also assist in developing the operating and capital budgets; in preparing town meeting articles by preparing back up information on various projects; and preparing for board of selectmen meetings.

“I’m a bit nervous, but I have a lot of support around here and a great mentor,” Eldredge said. “I will continue as interim health director in the health department, which is extremely vital right now. I’ll make sure the transition takes place smoothly and make sure we aren’t dropping the ball.”
Power began working on the posting notice for a new health director Tuesday in order to bring someone on board as soon as possible.

“I’ve been around town forever,” Eldredge said. “I grew up here and have a good understanding of the community, its residents and businesses. I think I’ll have a good transition.”