PARIS — As new Town Manager Vic Hodgkins gets his first week of work under his belt, in addition to learning how Paris runs, he wants to stabilize things so the town can grow.
Hodgkins, a Paris resident and former selectman, resigned from the selectboard in July before he was hired as town manager. His first day of work was Tuesday, Sept. 6, after working as the longtime station manager at WOXO in Norway.
He replaces former Town Manager Amy Bernard, who left Paris for Newry in December 2015, and interim town managers Sawin Millett and Bill Guindon.
From his Market Square office, Hodgkins talked about how work is going and goals and current projects he and other town officials are working on.
“It’s been very busy and good,” he said about his first week on the job. “I think slowly we’re getting where we need to be.”
He has been learning how things operate in Paris and “learning the rhythms of the Town Office.” This includes talking with town employees.
“What I am trying to do is trying to have … one-on-one meetings with staff and as you can imagine that is something that should really be done,” Hodgkins said. “I’ve had many great conversations at this point.”
He also wants to calm the waters as Paris has had a turbulent nine months with department heads and other employees leaving for work elsewhere or retiring early. Bernard, former Interim Paris Police Chief Jeff Lange, former Detective Richard Belanger, former Code Enforcement Officer Fred Collins and retired Fire Chief Brad Frost all cited negativity in town as reasons for leaving.
“Something that’s important to me is we begin a process to calm things down in town, work on eliminating and disposing of a lot the controversies, begin the process of stabilizing the community in terms of where we’re at, where we’re going,” Hodgkins said.
“I love the town of Paris,” he continued. “It is my home, it is my community and I just want to work hard every day and make it the best it can be. I do think there are opportunities. … Before the town of Paris can realize its full potential, we first need to create a very stable environment.”
To help stabilize the town, he will “handle issues head on one at a time.”
Current projects and others on the horizon include finishing the transition of ownership for the Mildred M. Fox School from the town to Avesta Housing – which includes selling the pellet boiler – getting a plan to utilize the vacant Paris Utility District property as a recreational space on Paris Hill Road and finalizing contract negotiations with the newly formed administrative union and the pending Fire Department unionization.
Hodgkins plans to continue “to stabilize the budgets” and have “an eye toward economic development.” He will also interview the only candidate for the the vacant code enforcement officer position on Friday, Sept. 16.
The new town manager shared a message with the entire Paris community.
“I look forward to working with the [select] board, town committees, the staff and citizens at large to move a positive agenda forward,” Hodgkins said.