News Feature

Castine
Originally published in Castine Patriot, June 5, 2014
Castine hires local resident as new town manager

by Anne Berleant

Sometimes the best candidate for a job is in your own back yard—or so the board of selectmen decided when, by majority vote, they approved Castine resident James Goodson III as new town manager on June 2. Goodson starts his post on July 7.

“Jimmy, we look forward to working with you,” said Chairman David Unger.

The choice, however, was not without dissent.

Selectman Gus Basile, who abstained from the vote, read a prepared statement outlining his reasons for not approving Goodson’s selection.

“All the other candidates we interviewed except for Jimmy were currently or had worked as town managers,” he said. “I feel it is unfair to the town to hire someone without experience.”

From an original pool of 30 candidates, some from “foreign countries” like California and Florida, Unger said, selectmen and consultants Eaton Peabody narrowed the choice to 12 applicants. Of those, Unger said, six were interviewed.

Basile noted that a list of desired traits in a town manager generated by a public meeting in March included someone with experience in municipal government and creating budgets.

He also noted the ongoing “major infrastructure” work, the “huge learning curve” facing Goodson and the fact that Goodson “will be taught by the people he is meant to supervise.”

“Will I support Jimmy Goodson? Yes,” Basile concluded.

He declined to debate with Unger, who raised several other attributes named by citizens, including leadership and vision, the ability to look at the big picture, honesty and ethics, good listening skills and the ability to move the town forward.

“And a thick skin,” Unger added. “That’s very important.”

He turned to current town manager Dale Abernethy: “Dale, I don’t know if you realize you’ve been doing all this.”

“The only thing left out is leaping tall buildings in a single bound,” replied Abernethy.

Before the vote on Goodson’s nomination, Selectman Peter Vogell said, “I interviewed several people and I picked who I thought was the best candidate for the job.” Vogell has served as selectman for over 30 years.

French ship from 1700s to visit Castine

The Castine Historical Society has successfully arranged for the reconstruction of a “very famous” French ship, The Hermione, to visit Castine on Bastille Day in 2015, according to David Adams.

The society has been “pushing” for the visit for two years,” Adams said.

The vessel first came to Castine in 1781 “with a secret message for George Washington,” Adams said, “that led directly to victory in Yorktown.”

The ship underwent 17 years of reconstruction in France and is now undergoing sea trials before traveling to several major ports that include Boston and Halifax. It will sail into the Penobscot Bay on July 14, 2015.

“We see this as an extraordinary event for economic development,” Adams said.

OK to $10,000 CED request, keeper’s house lease

In other business, selectmen unanimously approved a request by the Community and Economic Development Committee to spend $10,000, despite the absence of any committee member.

“I think it’s wise to have someone from that committee present,” Unger said, suggesting they postpone the vote until their June 16 meeting.

“I think we have all the information,” Basile said.

On May 27, the CED had approved a 2014-15 proposal submitted by consultant Barbara Whitten to brand Castine as a destination both seasonal and year-round.

“[The plan] involves a number of initiatives,” said Abernethy. “[The CED] has been quite pleased with the work she’s done to date.”

The CED was granted $20,000 to spend on consultants during the 2014-15 fiscal year by town meeting vote.

In other business, selectmen unanimously approved granting a three-year lease to Tracy Lameyer for the lighthouse keeper’s house at Dyce Head, with rent increases to match the Consumer Price Index. For 2014-15, the rent was raised $10, to $810 per month.

Finally, Peter Vogell was chosen to represent Castine in a new committee forming under the organization of Blue Hill Selectman Jim Schatz. The goal of the “Route 15” committee is to “devote more attention to Route 15 and roads that feed into it,” according to a letter written by Schatz.

“We intend to change the dynamic behind the decisions and resources allocated” to maintain local state roads, Schatz wrote.

Initial discussion centered on exactly which road is Route 15. Abernethy noted that the state road, which begins in Orland off Route 1, travels through Blue Hill, Brooksville, Sedgwick and Deer Isle and ends in Stonington, “was rebuilt so poorly that some cars are dragging in the center.”

Vogell will attend the initial meeting on June 17 “to see if it’s worth Castine’s [time],” said Unger.

Upcoming meetings

June 16, Board of Selectmen, 4 p.m., Emerson Hall

June 18, Town/gown, 8 a.m., Emerson Hall