February 18, 2013

Main Street Skowhegan winnows field for new executive director

By Doug Harlow dharlow@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

SKOWHEGAN — Officials at Main Street Skowhegan say a new executive director is expected to be on board by mid- to late March.

“It’s still in the interviewing process,” said Skowhegan Town Manager John Doucette Jr., a member of the candidate interview committee.

Doucette said of an original field of 22 applicants, five or six were considered the stronger candidates. That list was whittled down to three or four, he said.

“Now we’re having them come to town and walk around town and talk to the merchants and get an idea what’s going on in Skowhegan,” he said.

The executive director’s position has been vacant since Jennifer Olsen left in September. She took over as director of Waterville Main Street in October.

Olsen came to the Skowhegan program in March 2010.

The Skowhegan and Waterville Main Street programs are part of the Maine Downtown Center’s approach to downtown revitalization, with an eye on maintaining historic integrity to existing buildings. The idea was developed by the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 1980 and is used in more than 2,200 communities in 44 states.

Other Main Street communities in the state are Bath, Belfast, Biddeford, Brunswick, Gardiner, Rockland, Saco and Sanford.

Gene Rouse, president of Main Street Skowhegan, said applicants for the director’s job came from as far away as Boston, Portland and the Maine coast.

Rouse said two candidates were scheduled to tour Skowhegan on Friday, another on Saturday and the fourth sometime this week. He said the position is a salaried one, with pay in the $34,000 range, plus health and vacation benefits.

The director is expected to work an average of 40 hours a week.

“We’re looking for candidates that have good people skills, good fundraising skills and have some background in community planning or economic development,” Rouse said.

The Main Street Skowhegan Budget for 2011 was about $85,000, including director’s salary, office rental, printing and other expenses. Taxpayers, local businesses and community fundraising each provide one-third of the money to fund the budget.

Rouse said priorities for the program in 2013 include energy efficiency in downtown buildings, solar power collection, rooftop gardens and occupancy of the upper floors of downtown buildings.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

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