Rochester hires new conservation agent

Jun 22, 2021

ROCHESTER — The Rochester Board of Selectmen passed a resolution during its meeting on June 21 officially thanking Laurell Farinon, the town's outgoing conservation agent, for 27 years of service at the position, before approving an agreement to hire her replacement, Merilee Kelly.

“Welcome aboard, Merilee,” said selectman Greenwood Hartley.

Kelly is currently a conservation agent in Acushnet where she has worked for over 15 years, according to her LinkedIn profile.

She is one of two candidates that were interviewed for the position at the last board meeting. The board decided to move forward with hiring Kelly after failing to reach a mutual agreement with the other candidate, Brian Vasa.

During her interview with the board, Kelly highlighted her experience with some of the same issues that she will deal with in Rochester, like solar panels and farming, though she made a point of mentioning that the towns aren’t as similar as one might think.

“[Rochester] seems to be a lot different than Acushnet, despite being right next to it,” she said.

Kelly was also asked during the interview how she would handle instances in which the conservation agent may have to deal with residents violating rules and regulations.

Kelley said she would take a direct approach.

“As soon as I hear about it it’s usually a personal site visit,” she said. “And then usually I’ll send them a letter.”

From there, Kelley said, she would go to the Conservation Commission to see if an enforcement letter would be necessary, and as a last resort, get lawyers involved.

“But we hope it doesn’t get that far,” she said.