Bickford expected to replace Landis as Cumberland recreation director

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CUMBERLAND — The Town Council will vote April 12 on Brian Bickford’s appointment as community education and recreation director.

Bickford, who will also remain in charge of golf operations at the Val Halla Golf & Recreation Center, will replace Bill Landis as recreation director.

Town Manager Bill Shane said he offered Bickford the position after a unanimous recommendation by an interview panel and a series of meetings; Bickford accepted the position early this month.

Bickford, 45, will officially begin his job July 1. He will work with Landis in the meantime to smooth the transition.

The Cumberland resident noted last week that his predecessor has a “size 25 shoe in this town,” referring to Landis – called “the true ambassador of Cumberland” by Shane – and his nearly 20 years with the town. Bickford emphasized the importance of gleaning Landis’ institutional knowledge while he is still on the job.

“I just want (Landis) to get his due,” Bickford said. “He’s done so much for this community, and he’s going to be sorely missed.”

It won’t be the first time Bickford, who grew up in Cumberland, has had big shoes to fill. He said he followed a well-respected chief financial officer at Miles Memorial Hospital in Damariscotta about 15 years ago, where he worked until about 2002. Afterward he was director of finance at Mercy Hospital in Portland before going for a change of pace at Val Halla.

Bickford, head golf professional at Val Halla for about five years, said the town acquired the complex in the 1970s. Chris Bolduc, Cumberland’s public services and operations director, is overseeing parks and public works, as well as Val Halla’s maintenance responsibilities, Bickford said. Meanwhile, Bickford will handle the programmatic side of Val Halla’s operations, “looking for programs that fit the community.”

In a March 3 e-mail announcing Bickford’s appointment, Shane stated that while the position will be challenging, “I am confident Brian’s organizational and management skills will allow him to direct both (the recreation and golf operations) operations very well.”

Bickford, who has been married for 20 years and has two children, said he has lived close enough to Val Halla to drive a golf cart to work – but noted with a laugh that he may have to give up that perk.

He said Cumberland’s community education and recreation program “makes Cumberland and North Yarmouth a community that people want to move to. It’s not just the school, it’s not just the rural setting; it’s kind of that whole community feel.”

Alex Lear can be reached at 373-9060 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net.

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The Cumberland Town Council will vote April 12 on Brian Bickford’s appointment as community education and recreation director.

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A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.