HOULTON, Maine — A woman who breathed new life into the Greater Houlton Chamber of Commerce when she took the helm in 2006 will now be working to further energize the economy of Houlton.
During a Town Council meeting on Monday evening, Lori Weston was hired as the new community development director.
She will begin in November and replaces Wade Hanson, who stepped down after 11 years with the town to serve as the economic development director for the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians.
Although they expressed sadness at losing Hanson as a staff member, councilors were pleased to have Weston step in.
During her tenure at the Chamber, Weston instituted a number of new programs and initiatives to support and advertise more area businesses. She helped organize a weekly community market in downtown Houlton, revamped the annual holiday parade into a light parade and put new twists on staple events such as Potato Feast Days.
By 2009, she had increased the membership to 234, a jump of nearly 100 businesses since 2006.
Town Manager Doug Hazlett said that he was sad to see Hanson leave.
“In the six years that I have been here, he’s been a tremendous help to me,” Hazlett said. “He is an excellent grant writer, and he’ll be missed.”
He was also “thrilled” that Weston was taking the position.
“We wanted someone with an intimate knowledge of the business community and a wide knowledge of citizens, as well as strong writing skills and excellent speaking skills,” said Hazlett. “She has all of those attributes. I am very anxious to have her start on Nov. 1.”
Councilor Nancy Ketch noted that it was a big loss for the Chamber but a gain for the town.
Councilor John White agreed.
“She has a passion for our community and it’d be hard for us to find a nicer person,” he said on Monday evening. “I think she’ll be great for the job.”