(from the February 2009 Maine Townsman)

Skowhegan Deputy Town Clerk Trisha Austin was appointed interim town clerk and treasurer by selectmen last month. Austin replaces Gail Merrick, who served as clerk but wanted to return to her status as deputy. The town’s treasurer, Rhonda Stark, resigned last year after being named St. Albans town manager.

Joseph Barnes will temporarily replace Indian Township Police Chief Alexander Nicholas, who is attending the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia. Barnes, 40, is the former police chief of the nearby Pleasant Point Reservation, where he had served as an officer and chief for more than 20 years. Barnes is unsure what direction his career will take once the temporary stint is over.

Portland Police Officer Rick Betters, who worked on the department’s special response team, died of natural causes at the age of 52 while at his Falmonth home on January 14. Betters, well loved and respected in the department, was first hired as a police cadet in 1974. He left the city to work in Mechanic Falls and Wells before returning to Portland in 1988. In 1994, Betters received an heroism award from the city for saving sleeping residents from a fire and then returning to the building to help a woman trapped on the second floor get to safety.

Maine State Trooper Christopher Carr was elected to the Pittsfield Town Council in a special election January 14. Carr, 40, has been trooper for 15 years. He collected 49 votes to Melissa Hackett’s 34 and and Jan Laux’s 26. He will fill out the unexpired term of Michael Cianchette, who resigned to take a new job.

Kennebunk Deputy Fire Chief David “Duffy” Cluff has resigned effective March 20 to focus full-time on a new family-run business. Cluff also serves as the town’s emergency management director. The deadline for applying for Cluff’s job was scheduled for February 13.

Thomas “Tom” Fortier was named Ogunquit town manager on January 16, continuing his 20-year career in municipal government. Fortier resigned as Richmond town manager and was scheduled to begin his new duties on February 23. He worked 18 years for the city of Portland, the last seven in the city manager’s office overseeing the city’s islands.

Exeter selectmen re-hired Tressa Gudroe as town manager in January to replace outgoing manager Peter
, who resigned to take a job with the Kennebec Valley CAP. Gudroe worked as Exeter manager for three years, beginning in 2004, before taking a private sector job in Bangor. Gudroe also has worked as town clerk and tax collector for the town of Corinna.

Paul Hepp has been named human resources manager for the town of Wells, effective late in January. Hepp has extensive HR experience from a 20-year civil service career for the Air Force and a stint with Home Depot in South Portland. Hepp, whose wife is a York native, has lived in Wells for eight years.

Minot Town Administrator Rhonda Irish has been named Wilton town manager replacing Peter Neilsen, who is now the town manager in Oakland. Irish, who lives in Jay, resigned effective February 20.

Penny Jordan was elected a Cape Elizabeth town councilor in a special election January 27 to fill the unexpired term of Mary Ann Lynch. Jordan defeated James Walsh by a vote of 569 to 400 and will serve until December 2010. Lynch resigned last fall to take a job with the Maine judiciary.

Hartford selectmen have hired William “Bill” Kennedy as the town’s new code enforcement officer, effective in early January. Kennedy, who has passed all five certification tests, is the first permanent CEO since Jack Plumley left the job after being elected a selectman in 2008.

Following the deaths of two close friends, Portland acting Police Chief Joseph Loughlin has taken himself out of competition for the permanent job. Loughlin said he will remain with the department through the hiring of a new chief, but is uncertain what he wants to do after that. Loughlin, who has been with the department nearly 30 years, was apparently one of three finalists for the job. Loughlin said the recent deaths of Sgt. Rick Betters and department finance director Mary
caused him to reassess his life and decide he did not have the time and energy the chief’s job would demand.

Former 25-year South Portland firefighter Herbert Pusey died January 8 at the age of 78. He was cited by city leaders for extraordinary courage in 1968 in fighting a fire following an explosion that injured one of his peers, according to his obituary.

Former Orrington Selectman Paul White has been named town manager to replace Carl Young, who recently accepted the code enforcement officer and assessing jobs for the town of Tremont. White started his new job in mid-January.

A scholarship fund established in memory of the late Hallowell Mayor Barry S. Timson began taking applications for the annual $2,500 college donation. Timson died at age 62 while in office in April 2007.

Waldoboro Fire Chief Ernest Vannah resigned January 14, effective immediately, following 35 years with the department. Deputy Chief Paul Smeltzer was named acting chief.

Robert Dodge, director of economic and community development for more than 30 years for the city of Biddeford, died February 3 of heart problems. He was 63. A Biddeford native, Dodge was credited with luring businesses and jobs to the city, particularly as the textile factories shut their doors and shipped business to Asia. Dodge, who died at Southern Maine Medical Center, also worked as director of the Biddeford Housing Authority. “To say he is going to be missed is an understatement,” City Manager John Bubier told the Journal Tribune.

Falmouth Public Works Director Walter “Skip” Varney, 51, has resigned after 18 years with the department. Varney, who has served as public works and parks director for two years, said the death of several friends in recent years, most recently a friend and neighbor, compelled him to quit the “demanding” job and pursue other interests.