Brunswick hires new Public Works director

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BRUNSWICK — Michael Crafts has been hired as the town’s director of Public Works. 

Crafts, originally from Lisbon Falls, previously spent 23 years working for the  U.S. Navy in different capacities, including as a public works director in Illinois and New Jersey.

When he begins the position in Brunswick July 16, Crafts will earn an annual salary of more than $86,500.

Most recently, Crafts worked as a Navy program manager in Virginia Beach, Virginia, where he led a team tracking the deployment readiness of 20,000 sailors.

Craft’s hiring was approved by town councilors at their June 28 end-of-the-fiscal-year meeting. John Foster retired March 30. 

Councilor Jane Millett said she was “really astounded” by Craft’s resume.

“It is absolutely amazing and I hope we can find enough challenging work for him to do,” she said.

In an interview July 9, Crafts said a driving force for him to leave the Navy and return to Maine was to settle his family, especially his daughter, who is set to begin high school in the fall.

“I feel excited,” he said. “We weren’t sure coming from Virginia (and) coming back home how home was going to click, but it feels great.”

Before beginning work in Virginia in 2015, Crafts held a variety of positions across the country and around the world, including in Afghanistan, Iraq, Japan, Cuba and Puerto Rico. 

He holds a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Maine, a Master of Business Administration from Southern New Hampshire University, and a Master of Science in Civil and Environmental Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 

Crafts said his focus for the rest of the summer in Brunswick will be meeting the DPW crew and getting them ready for winter, which, though it’s only July, “is not far away.”

“I’d like to see Public Works take on more responsibility in the future, start working with Parks and Recreation a little bit closer, (and) get a little more integration with the other town departments,” he said. “But initially the focus is (that) summer (is) half done and the snow will come soon and we have to get ready for that.”

And, while he said New Jersey and Illinois also had snow, the nature of the weather was different. In New Jersey for instance, the snow melted quickly, and Illinois was colder, but had less snow – which Crafts said makes Maine more of a public works challenge “by far.”

He also said the challenges of being a public works director remain the same, citing “after-hours emergencies on holidays and weekends” as being a consistent issue.

“You cross your fingers on Super Bowl weekend that nothing’s going to go wrong, because here and everywhere else it’s voluntary recall when something has to happen,” he said.

Crafts applied for the Brunswick position in April, and said Brunswick town staff were “phenomenal” during his transition, allowing him to conduct the job interviews via video.

Only about a week after moving back to his home state, he said he was already feeling like a Mainer again. 

“We’ve been here a week and it feels like home; we had lobsters in the driveway last night, (and) wandered downtown,” he said. “We were afraid that it would feel strange coming home, and it doesn’t, it feels natural.”

Elizabeth Clemente can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 100 or Follow Elizabeth on Twitter @epclemente.

Michael Crafts will begin work July 16 as director of Public Works in Brunswick.