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Dan Foster Retiring as Fort Fairfield Town Manager

By: David Deschesne

Fort Fairfield Journal, April 3, 2013

After 15 years of managing the Town of Fort Fairfield, Dan Foster will be retiring at the end of 2013. “I have truly enjoyed my involvement with the citizens of Fort Fairfield; it has been by far the most gratifying job I have had in my career. Working for my hometown and with people I grew up with has provided me a unique opportunity to actively participate in enhancing the quality of life for our citizens.”

At their March 20 town council meeting, the Fort Fairfield town council went into executive session to discuss personnel matters. By law, executive session is not open to the public. Since the executive session was at the end of the regular council meeting, and there was no notice that a vote might be forthcoming afterward, all public observers left the area. At the end of the executive session, where the council presumably discussed hiring a new town manger, the council came out of executive session and held a “public” vote where there was no public to witness it. Therefore, technically the vote was not held in secret, it’s just nobody in town knew about it.

The main criticism around town is not so much the choice of the new town manager, which will be Mike Bosse, current Executive Director of the Fort Fairfield Chamber of Commerce, but the secretive manner in which the town council made the selection without even advertising for the job.

Some people expressed the idea that the town manager should have been voted on by the whole town. However, under the town council form of government, the town manager is elected solely by the town council. Others would have at least liked to have had some notification so there could have been a dialogue with the town council regarding potential applicants.

“Mike's very valuable skill set, his outstanding performance while employed by Fort Fairfield, the opportunity to have Mike and Dan work together in a mentoring relationship until Dan's December retirement, approximately 8 months from now led us to our decision,” said town council chair, David McCrea. “No other path of action would have given our town an opportunity for such a smooth transition in management.”

“I can appreciate the anxiety over the selection process, but I think we should give Mike a chance,” said Fort Fairfield town manager, Dan Foster. “We are very fortunate to have someone of his skill set willing to take the job.”

Foster is credited with many accomplishments including the construction of the dike protecting downtown, preserving the community’s railroad access, and most recently the building of a new health center and the construction of new elderly housing.

Michael Bosse will be Fort Fairfield's next town manager, beginning January 1, 2014. According to the town's press release, “For the past three years Mike has served the community as its Economic Development and Marketing Director as well as the Executive Director for the Chamber of Commerce. He brings a wealth of life experiences to the community and a strong business background. His successful management of the Potato Blossom Festival and the Agri-Business Trade Fair has demonstrated his ability to be a strong and consistent leader. His ability to facilitate meetings and projects in a collaborative and inclusive manner has enhanced the quality of the work being done by the Chamber of Commerce and the Quality of Place Council.”

“When Mike originally came to me about the Chamber Director position, I asked him why he would even be interested in this job,” said Foster. “He told me he saw a lot of positive things happening in Fort Fairfield and wanted to be a part of them.”

“With the unique challenges that Fort Fairfield’s 2014 budget is facing, it was important to the Council to have Mike play a more significant role in its process sooner rather than later,” stated McCrea. “We are confident that Mike has demonstrated the leadership skills needed to help Fort Fairfield successfully navigate the unique challenges being presented to municipal governments throughout this State.”

As Mike moves from the Chamber of Commerce position to town manager, the Chamber position will not be filled, thus reducing town expenses in salaries. This has caused some concern for the future of the Maine Potato Blossom Festival, since it has been traditionally managed by the Chamber Director.

“The Agri-Business Trade Fair and Potato Blossom Festival provide us with resources above their expenses that will enable us to pay a director for the Festival,” said Foster, who cited past examples where he had once served in that capacity, as well as George Watson, who provided that service after former Chamber Director, Janet Kelle resigned.

“We certainly have no intention of downsizing either the Festival or the Agri-Business Trade Fair,” said McCrea. “Both of these events are self supporting and resources are available to pay a facilitator to run them. It is expected that Mike will help mentor whoever is chosen to manage these events.”

Bosse will initially sign a six-month contract. The time period will bring his employment in line with the Town’s fiscal year and according to the Town’s personnel policy, allow for a six-month probationary period. “We are fortunate to have someone of Mike’s caliber to be able to work with Dan over the next nine months, ensuring a smooth transition of leadership during such a critical time in the life of our community,” said McCrea. “We have not permanently eliminated Mike's current position but for budgetary reasons as well as our confidence in Mike's excellent managerial abilities we have elected to proceed in the above described manner. At the end of the 6 month probationary period ending in June of 2014, the Council will have the option of renewing Mr. Bosse’s contract or not.”

Bosse is a lifelong inhabitant in Caribou and prior to working for Fort Fairfield has owned and managed two successful businesses; Funland in Caribou for twelve years and MAP, Inc. in Presque Isle for the past twenty years. He and his wife Peggy are looking forward to relocating to Fort Fairfield once their home has been sold.



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