Commissioners appoint new county manager

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DOVER-FOXCROFT — Next month a new county manager will start work as the Piscataquis County Commissioners appointed Michael L. Williams of Greenbush to the position during a June 18 meeting. Williams will start work on Monday, July 8, succeeding the retiring Tom Lizotte.

“We had 10 initial applicants, two dropped out during the process,” Commissioners Chair James White said. “After interviewing the remaining candidates we narrowed it down to three and we ultimately went with Michael Williams of Greenbush.

“We look forward to a long working relationship with you.”

“I look forward to working with everybody,” Williams told the commissioners and county department heads in attendance.

He was scheduled to spend the day with Lizotte — who announced his retirement in April after five years as county manager — on June 19.

“I’m going to be available by phone and email, there are things you won’t be able to learn until they happen,” Lizotte said. He said also he would be working with Williams later in the year in the process to develop the Unorganized Territory (UT) budget.

In a follow-up email Lizotte said Williams accepted an annual salary of $52,000 with a July 8 start date. Williams must complete a 6-month probationary period before any contract can be considered.

“His employment with Piscataquis County is currently ‘at will,’ meaning that either party may terminate employment at any time before the expiration of the probationary period,” Lizotte wrote. “For what it is worth, I have not worked under a contract, nor did I ever request one, in my five years as county manager.”

A native of Guilford and graduate of Piscataquis Community High School, Williams served in the U.S. Army from 1981-88 leading a squad in nuclear weapons readiness overseas and later training basic trainees as a drill sergeant.

Following his military service, Williams was a papermaker from 1989 to 2014. He first worked at the Georgia Pacific/James River mill in Old Town for 17 years and later at Verso Paper in Bucksport. Following the closure of the Verso mill, Williams returned to school and finished his associate’s degree in pulp and paper technology from Kennebec Valley Community College in Fairfield. He earned a bachelor’s degree in applied science with a minor in accounting and a certificate in human resources management from the University of Maine at Augusta, graduating magna cum laude.

Since receiving his bachelor’s in 2017, Williams has been employed as a data research specialist in the healthcare sector.

Williams has been active in the Greenbush community, serving as a member and chair of the Penobscot County town’s school board since 1997 as well as the Region 2 director for the Maine School Board Association. He also volunteers on the Greenbush Broadband Committee and Greenbush Food Pantry.

In other business, the commissioners signed a transitional snow removal contract for Atkinson with O’Brien and Sons Construction of Dexter for the 2019-20 season. The company has been plowing roads in Atkinson.

“It is a 1-year contract that will allow us to transition from municipality to UT,” Lizotte said, with Atkinson deorganizing at the end of the month. He said the contract is for $125,000, with salt and sand included, for O’Brien and Sons Construction to maintain 22 miles of roads.

“The people in Atkinson have been pleased with them,” Lizotte said.

The county manager said O’Brien and Sons Construction will be using the town of Sebec’s salt/sand storage area in Sebec Village to store its material for the Atkinson roads.

The commissioners also gave their approval for ATV access on the North Bay Road in Lily Bay Township after receiving a petition signed by 32 property owners.

Lizotte said most of the document signers are seasonal residents and they requested ATV access on much of the .8-mile long North Bay Road in order to access the adjacent ATV trails. Otherwise the vehicles would still need to be transported the short distance from their land to the trailhead.

“It’s for their convenience just to get out of their driveways,” Lizotte said. He said the residents would post the appropriate signage at their expense. They had previously checked with the Maine Warden Service, and the agency agreed to the access provided the commissioners gave their approval.

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