Michael Olio

Michael Olio (Kate Barcellos)

RICHFORD — Two months ago, Michael Olio was a new Champlain College graduate who scored a part-time position as Richford’s Economic Development Coordinator.

The Town was so impressed with his performance that they made Olio the official, full-time Town Administrator. Now, the Tolkein and astronomy-enthusiast — and Richford Junior Senior High School graduate — Olio is at the helm of his hometown as the 22-year-old full-time Town Administrator.

He is the first-ever Town Administrator for Richford, a position the selectboard created after discussing its benefits in November with Tim Smith, St. Albans City mayor and director of the Franklin County Industrial Development Corporation.

“This is a career position,” Olio told the Messenger last week. “Everyone here is fantastic to work with, and I am excited to see what we will accomplish.”

Q: What did you study in school?

A: At Champlain College, he majored in business administration and minored in information systems. Olio had contemplated finding work and a career outside of his hometown, but the COVID-19 pandemic forced the former student to study several semesters from home.

After reconnecting with his hometown and taking a part-time position as the Economic Development Coordinator, Olio decided to lunge for the administrator position and weigh moving back to Richford full-time.

Q: What interested you most about this job?

A: “The business side of things, for sure,” Olio said. “I was not experienced in grant-writing, but a lot of that happened in the Economic Development Role. Lots of community planning and planning events and such. A lot of the roles I used to play kind of rolled into this one, and with my experience and interest in business and finance, I figured the role would fit well.”

Q: Why did you decide to throw your hat in the ring for the position of Town Administrator?

A: “Growing up here, there’s always ‘that perception’ [about Richford]” Olio said. “It’s usually negative. But it shouldn’t be, not at all. And that’s part of what made me want to take on this role. There’s so much potential, and I think a lot of people here want to see more happen here in town, and there are a lot of positive things going on.”

Q: What does Richford have to offer?

A: “We had a skating rink that was really popular last winter,” Olio said. “A recreation committee that signs out sports equipment and canoes for the summer. There’s a lot of great stuff around.”

Q: Is Richford on the brink of expansion?

A: “I would agree with that,” Olio said. “We have a lot of cool projects in the works. We’re currently trying to make the town more energy efficient – all of our streetlights are being converted over into LED street lights to save taxpayer money and save the town a lot of energy.

“We’ve been working with Efficiency Vermont doing assessments for energy efficiency — we’ll be assessing the fire station, library and hopefully the historical society too. For this [Town Office] building, we’re looking at getting a different heating source away from oil and adding insulation.

Q: Is there a dream to rebuild Richford’s downtown again back into its former glory?

A: “Of course we want to do that,” Olio said. “We want to create more community-oriented events to bring people to town here.

Q: First impressions of working in municipal government?

A: There’s a lot of reading involved, and I love reading so that’s a positive. It feels good to get to know state and municipal laws really well. There’s more day-to-day stuff for the selectboard like minutes and agendas. There’s a lot of learning involved [in this position], and I’m really excited to settle into my role.”

Q: Tell us about you. What are some of the hobbies you have outside of work?

A: “I like to work out and I like to read,” Olio said. “Astronomy. When you look out and you see these beautiful things in the night sky, it’s amazing. And this is a perfect area for it, if you go just outside of town. Just look at the stars.”

Olio said he’s incredibly grateful to be given his new role, especially given the close partnerships cultivated at the Town Office between the Town Clerk, Assistant Town Clerk, Selectboard, Listers, Zoning Administrator, Town Crew and many others.

“Any existing or future project is a group effort, and I am fortunate to be surrounded by people who are equally willing to get involved in projects to improve the Town,” Olio said.

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