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New town manager faces drunken driving charge
By Anna Scott and Jamie Jamieson
Staff writers

TOPSFIELD — Friday began as one of the best days in Robert Markel's recent memory.

He drove into Boston to celebrate his new job as Ipswich's town manager and the selling of his longtime home in Springfield, where he raised two children and had lived with his late wife, who died in 2002 of breast cancer.

But early Saturday morning, the day of fresh starts ended with Markel's arrest on a charge of drunken driving in Topsfield.

According to police, Officer Sean Frost observed the car Markel was driving had crossed over into the wrong lane and pulled him over on Route 1 at Ipswich Road. Markel was arrested and charged with marked lane violations and drunken driving, and released on bail. He will be arraigned at Ipswich District Court in Newburyport on Thursday.

Markel, 61, said the incident was his first offense. "I have a clean driving record and I'm not a heavy drinker," he said.

"Friday was a very special day for me and I went into Boston for a celebration for all the changes that have occurred," said Markel, "my relocation (to Ipswich), selling my house, a new job, and a special friend, as well. "I was euphoric and sometimes you just allow things to go in an unwise direction."

Police had no further details about the incident, pending the filing of an incident report.

Markel's first day as town manager was Wednesday. He has been living at a bed-and-breakfast on East Street while he looks for a permanent home in Ipswich.

Markel said he was not driving a town car when he was arrested.

Selectmen Chairman Ed Rauscher did not return calls for comment, but Selectman James Foley on Saturday said Markel had informed him of the arrest. Foley said he expected to discuss the matter with Rauscher later in the day, but declined to comment further.

Selectman Patrick McNally, who was not aware of the arrest until called by The Salem News, said, "I'm sorry to hear that. No comment." Selectman Elizabeth Kilcoyne also declined to comment.

Markel's resume rose to the top of the pile from a pool of 60 candidates. He has credentials as a former college professor and ex-mayor of Springfield, serving two terms from 1992 to 1996. His last job before coming to Ipswich was as town manager of the town of Norfolk for four years.

Before that, he served as executive director of the Boston Management Consortium, a nonprofit consultant group that seeks to improve the efficiency of city government.
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