WALLINGFORD — Craig Turner, the director of Youth & Social Services, retired at the end of May after 22 years.
Turner was unavailable for comment Wednesday.
Mayor William W. Dickinson Jr. said Turner decided “fairly quickly he was going to retire.”
“He reached a point where he felt retirement was the best for him at that time,” Dickinson said. “As I indicated to him, we would miss his work ethic, thoroughness, desire to provide services to people.”
When asked about filling the position, Dickinson said the town is “in the process of reviewing the needs of the town and the functioning of the department.”
Kenny Michaels, Parks & Recreation director, took over some of Turner’s administrative duties temporarily.
Michaels said he worked with Turner on community-wide programs including Project Graduation and Holiday For Giving, both of which used the Parks & Rec facility on Fairfield Boulevard as a host site.
“He was great to work with,” he said. “He gave a lot to the community and was very well respected.”
Michaels also said that Turner was the one who spearheaded a town partnership with the brand Life is Good, which is still in the early stages.
Turner also helped to build the Coalition For a Better Wallingford, which began in 2012 to address drug and alcohol addiction after a growing number of overdose deaths.
Ken Welch, Coalition president, said Turner will be “sorely missed.”
“Over the nine years, we’ve come to rely on his oversight for almost everything we do,” Welch said. “It’s hard to replace someone who has that much experience.
“We’ve got a rapport with the community that allows us to talk to and interact with families that are struggling, and Turner helped facilitate that,” he added.
While the opioid crisis has been the Coalition’s primary focus, Welch said they worked with Turner to address marijuana legislation and presented “a number of education programs” on topics like nursing homes and early childhood development.
“COVID-19 has exacerbated those efforts,” Welch said. “It’s tough to get to people, to talk to people, people to talk to us.”
Turner’s last day was May 29. His final salary was $97,266 annually and he will be receiving a pension, according to town officials.