News Feature

Originally published in Castine Patriot, March 7, 2019
After 26 years, it’s been ‘long enough’ for Penobscot selectman
Paul Bowen retires

From the State House

Penobscot town meeting moderator and State of Maine Representative Sherm Hutchins presents Paul with a letter from the State House in congratulations for his 26 years of service as a member of the board of selectmen at town meeting March 5.

Photo by Monique Labbe Order prints of selected PBP photos.

by Monique Labbe

Though not a Penobscot resident by birth, Paul Bowen has called his residence on Back Ridge Road home for the last 45 years.

Over half of that, 26 years, has been spent serving as a member of the Penobscot Board of Selectmen, a seat he held from 1989 to 1998, and, starting again in 2002, held until the final minutes of the 2019 Penobscot Town Meeting.

“It’s been long enough,” said Bowen while cleaning out his desk at the Penobscot Town Office less than a week before town meeting. Bowen made the decision to not run for another term this year, and instead left the seat open for what would become a three-women race. Ultimately, Sylvia Tapley was voted into the seat by Penobscot residents.

A farmer by trade, Bowen bought Mapleholm Farm in 1972, and, over the course of the next couple of decades, raised chickens and then dairy cows. He then turned to the automotive business after he and his wife raised their children on the farm, and opened what is now Island Automotive on Verona Island.

While raising his children, Bowen also served on the Penobscot School Board for nine years, during which time the school was “bulging at the seams,” he said, and in need of more room for the students. It was during that time, he said, that construction on what is now Penobscot Community School began.

In his 45 years in Penobscot, and 26 years as a selectman, Bowen said he has worked with some “incredible people,” from former selectmen Sherm Hutchins, Jim Henry, the late Bing Gross, and Stanley Shorey, to town office staff members Sally Bridges, Elizabeth Hutchins, Elizabeth Gray, and newly added treasurer Amy Dunn.

“I also consider [current selectmen] Harold [Hatch] and Phil [Rapp] close friends of mine,” he said.

With his time in public service at an end, Bowen said he is looking forward to being able to have more time for one of his favorite past times; taking to the waters aboard his 30-foot cruising boat.

“Several years ago, I thought to myself ‘how does anyone live on the coast and not own a boat?’ So we bought one, a 25-footer that got around quick. But I didn’t want to get around that fast, I wanted to just cruise along,” he said. “It’ll be nice to get out there without having to worry about coming back in for anything. Spend the night out there. The wife and I love that.”

Though many things have changed over the last few decades, from a declining school population to an increase in the older generation, Bowen said it would be difficult to find anywhere else to call home.

“The thought of moving is something I can’t even bear,” he said. “This has been our home for too long to even consider that.”