HOULTON, Maine — The town will soon be looking for a new community development director following the announcement that Wade Hanson is stepping down from his position after 11 years of service to the municipality.
Hanson’s final day with the town is Sept. 30. Starting Oct. 3, he tackles his new position as economic development director for the Houlton Band of Maliseets.
“It was a very difficult decision,” Hanson said.
Hanson, who has a background in both construction and retail, started out with the town as the civic center director in 2000. He held that post for just six months before taking over as the town’s code enforcement officer. He held that post for eight years before moving into the role of community development director at the request of the town manager.
“The code enforcement position really helped with my transition into community development,” Hanson said. “It was helpful in that it gave me a background into the needs of the community.”
“Wade has been a valuable member of the town’s management team both while serving as CEO and in his current position of grant writer and community development director,” said Houlton Town Manager Doug Hazlett. “His skills at writing, his knowledge of the community and community members as well as his strong ability to work with people are extraordinary. He leaves very large shoes to fill.”
Hazlett said the town would take steps to fill his position in the coming weeks.
Hanson said he was encouraged to apply for the position with the Maliseets. As their new economic development director, he will be responsible for moving the Maliseets ahead with a number of projects. The tribe has 50 acres of undeveloped land on Route 1; owns the Rollerama property on the North Road; and Wild Pines Campground in Monticello.
The tribe is also undergoing an economic study with the Northern Maine Development Commission. The Maliseets have been without an economic development director for the past two years, according to Hanson.
Hanson has been involved with a number of large projects for the town. Most recently, he was a key figure in the Tractor Supply Store locating in Houlton. He was also heavily involved in the Market Square Commons housing project, as well as assisting in the creation of a farmers market in downtown Houlton.
“Working for the community is just like chasing a wildfire,” he said. “There is always something new and exciting popping up. My goal has always been to keep the best interests of the town at the forefront. This is a great environment to work in.”
Hanson said he will miss the daily contact with his co-workers at the town office, but expects he will see many of them in his new role with the Maliseets. He also did not rule out the possibility of running for a town position such as council in the future.
Building a bigger bridge between the town and the tribal community is a goal of his in his new job, as is creating more employment opportunities for the tribal members.
“I’d like to see a more cohesive partnership between the two groups,” he said.
Hanson said he gave a three-week notice because he wanted to clear up some of the many projects he has been working on.
“I just wanted to get some last-minute things buttoned up and on the right track for the town,” he said.
Hanson resides in Houlton with his wife Carol and daughters Emily and Allix.