Houlton manager hired for Oxford

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Courtesy of Joseph Cyr/ Houlton Pioneer Times NEW HIRE — Newly hired Town Manager Butch Asselin, pictured here at his desk in Houlton, said he is looking forward to working with the Oxford community. 

OXFORD — Butch Asselin says he is ready for new challenges and opportunities as he moves more than 200 miles south from Houlton to Oxford to serve as the community’s next town manager.

Asselin, who is currently Houlton’s town manager, was the unanimous choice of the Oxford Board of Selectmen to lead this town forward after a secession of town managers during the last two years.

“I deeply appreciate this opportunity. While I enjoyed my time in Houlton serving as their police chief and now town manager, I look forward to the new challenges and opportunities Oxford has to offer,” Asselin told the Advertiser Democrat in an email Monday, Aug. 7.

Asselin said he looks forward to working with the community.

“In partnership with the Board of Selectmen and department heads, I will continue to make Oxford a great place to raise a family and promote economic growth,” he said.

Asselin, who was serving as Houlton’s police chief when he was unanimously appointed as that town’s interim town manager and then permanent town manager three years ago, said one of the major perks of accepting the job is the closer proximity to his family.

“Because family is very important to me, relocating to Oxford drastically reduces my travel time to visit with my daughters and grandchildren. It will be great to be able to attend ball games and dance recitals,” he said. “Having been born in Rumford and a resident of Dixfield in my early years, I have familial ties to the area.”

Selectboard Chairman Scott Owens, who made the announcement at the board’s Thursday, Aug. 3 meeting, said the board unanimously agreed that Asselin was the best candidate for the job.

“He interviewed very well,” said Owens of the reasons behind their choice. Although Asselin has worked almost 40 years in law enforcement, including as police chief in Skowhegan and has received numerous awards for his police work, Owens said that was not the basis for their vote to hire Asselin.

Instead, other strengths such as Asselin’s grant writing ability, swayed the board.

Despite his notable law enforcement background, Asselin has had prior town manager experience before Houlton. While serving as Skowhegan’s police chief from 1997 to 2007, he also worked as interim town manager. In 2014, after coming to Houlton as its police chief in 2007, he retired from his career in law enforcement when asked by the Houlton Town Council to take on the new role as town manager.

Houlton, with its population of slightly more than 6,000 residents, is located in Aroostook County on the northern end of Route 95 and borders New Brunswick, Canada.

The 37-square-mile town and county seat operates under a municipal town charter with a seven-member town council. It is considered a full-service-center community with a large business district, a full-time police, fire and ambulance service, a community hospital, municipal water and sewer and the public use Houlton International Airport.

Asselin informed the Houlton Town Council of his decision at its July 25 meeting, and, according to the Houlton Pioneer Times, he was praised for his years of service.

Councilor Rosa McNally thanked Asselin saying, “I think you have done a really good job with the budget. … It has helped us in a lot of ways. You have always had a positive image. We really appreciate your efforts and wish you the absolute best.”

Asselin, who will receive an annual salary of $78,000, will begin work in Oxford on Monday, Aug. 21.

Oxford has been without a permanent town manager since Derik Goodine unexpectedly resigned on Nov. 17, 2016, after serving only six months. Following Goodine’s resignation, Financial Clerk Becky Lippincott was appointed interim town manager.

She retained her position as financial clerk and signed a three-month agreement with the board on Dec. 1, 2016. The agreement was for three months or until such time as a permanent town manager was hired or both parties approved extending the agreement.

Selectmen said they extended her contract through annual town meeting in June.

The town has gone through a number of town manager changes since January 2016 when longtime manager Michael Chammings left to become Auburn’s community and economic development director.

Oxford Code Enforcement Officer Rodney Smith, who passed away in March, was interim town manager during that vacancy and did not apply for the permanent town manager’s job that Goodine got.

Owens said a vote to confirm Asselin’s appointment will be made at the board’s next meeting on Thursday, Aug. 17.

ldixon@sunmedigaroup.net