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Few Freeport residents show up to meet town manager finalists

Few Freeport residents show up to meet town manager finalists

Photo: Will Graff / The Forecaster

James Doar, left, one of two finalists for Freeport town manager, talks with Councilor Charlotte Bishop at a public reception for the finalists on July 12. The Town Council will make a selection Thursday in executive session and announce the new manager at its next meeting on Aug. 7.

FREEPORT — The two final candidates for town manager met with a small group of residents July 12, in an effort to make final impressions before the Town Council makes a selection.

The finalists – Peter Joseph Jr., 30, town manager of Lincoln, N.H., and James Doar, 34, town manager of Bethel – are vying to replace Town Manager Dale Olmstead, who is retiring in October after more than 30 years in the position.

The council is scheduled to make its selection in an executive session Thursday and announce the new town manager at its regularly scheduled meeting on Aug. 7.

Fewer than a dozen residents, including Andy LeMaistre, 66, owner of Mitchell Ledge Farm, attended a reception intended to introduce the town to the finalists and their wives.

"It's good to have some young people; there's enough old people in Maine," LeMaistre said.

He said finances are always a concern and he hopes the candidate who is chosen will be responsible with the town's money.

"Overall, the town manager needs to be a man who can lead," LeMaistre said.

Before the reception with town residents, the finalists also met with the town's administrative staff.

The recommended salary for the new manager is $99,000-$115,000, a range based on other town manager salaries in the area, Olmstead said.

The manager will oversee the town budget of $9.3 million for Freeport's 7,900 residents.

Joseph has been town manager of Lincoln, population 1,662, since 2008 and said he has enjoyed the selection process.

"The (town) staff is great," he said in a closing speech at the reception. "I don't have anything bad to say and I tried really hard to find something I didn't like."

The Massachusetts native's work history includes being an assistant to the town administrator of Petersborough, N.H. and working as an intern for town managers in New Hampshire and Massachusetts. He is also on the board of directors of the Lincoln Woodstock Chamber of Commerce.

Doar, originally from Maine, has worked as Bethel town manager since 2009 and said becoming Freeport's town manager would be a "step up."

"It's a wonderful town with a good reputation, " he said. "The first impression (of Freeport) is shopping. But once you get to some of the outlying areas, you see how beautiful it is."

In addition to managing Bethel, which has a population of about 2,600, Doar, a U.S. Army veteran, has worked in Rumford as both a town manager and as a financial analyst for NewPage, a printing and paper company. He also worked as a budget analyst for the New York State budget division.

The two finalists were narrowed down from a pool of 41 applicants.

Will Graff can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or wgraff@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @W_C_Graff.