Longtime Islesboro manager chosen as North Yarmouth administrator
NORTH YARMOUTH — The Board of Selectmen Tuesday unanimously appointed Damaris Marnie Diffin as the town's administrative assistant.
They also began talk of updating Wescustogo Hall policies after an event left significant damage to the building.
Diffin, who has been town manager of Islesboro since 1994 and was administrative assistant in Durham before that, will start work in August. She was selected from 76 applicants after a process involving three interviews and meetings with town officials and department heads. Selectmen initially had help from the Maine Municipal Association, which whittled the initial 76 down to 25 who best embodied a set of requirements the selectmen had laid out, including that the new administrator had to live in or near North Yarmouth.
Diffin will move to town, selectmen said. And more than that, Selectmen Candy Burgess said, "she's a person of this town. She will fit in beautifully."
"It was a difficult decision," Burgess said, "but it was unanimous all the way around. We all felt really good about Marnie. She's very likable."
Islesboro Selectman Grayson Hartley on Wednesday praised Diffin's administrative skills. "She is really competent in financial matters, deals well with situations and is not afraid to express her opinions," she said. "Whatever she's done, it's always been in the best interest to the town – that's foremost in her mind. We're really going to miss her, North Yarmouth is very fortunate to get someone of her caliber."
Diffin is scheduled to take over as administrative assistant Aug. 10, relieving interim administrator Debbie Grover, who will return to her position as office manager. Grover took over in mid-June when former administrator Scott Tilton opted to leave early when his contract, which expired June 30, was not renewed.
A youth Habitat for Humanity fundraiser dance held at Wescustogo Hall last weekend reportedly left significant damage to the property, prompting selectmen to consider updating rental policies and increasing rental fees or the deposit required to rent the building.
The dance last weekend was the latest in a series of unruly events, selectmen said, and left 10 window screens damaged, 62 pieces of gum on the floor, as well as damage to walls and pipes. The event had nearly 200 young guests, they said, inattentive chaperons and only one police officer for security. Although there were no alcoholic beverages served, selectmen said many guests arrived intoxicated.
Amy Dowler, associate executive director of Greater Portland Habitat for Humanity said Wednesday that the dance was not planned or attended by representatives of Habitat for Humanity, but was rather a private fundraising event for a group raising money to travel to Habitat for Humanity in Hawaii. She said the only direct involvement of the organization was that the Maui branch provided a certificate of insurance to the fundraisers because they were raising money for that program.
Regardless of the Greater Portland branch not being directly involved in the matter, Dowler said she was "obviously disappointed, I would hope someone raising money for our program would be better stewards of using Habitat for Humanity's name."
The $50 deposit the group paid will not be returned, but Selectmen Chairman Paul Napolitano said that amount won't come close to covering the damage.The town has begun the process of making an insurance claim through the Maui group.
"With the amount of money we're putting into (refinishing) that floor and the amount of damage over the last 12 months, we need to revisit the policies," Napolitano said, referring to an upstairs floor refinishing project which will begin in September.
Policy changes could include requiring renters to be at least 21 years old, include a certain number of chaperons, and two police officers. Rental fees or the deposit could also increase. The matter will be discussed before the Wescustogo Hall committee this month, and brought back to selectmen in August.
Sarah Trent can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 108 or firstname.lastname@example.org.