MEDWAY, Maine — Town leaders are paying Rick Bronson, a former Brewer fire chief and Bangor City Council member, about $750 to help them select a new fire chief, Town Administrative Assistant Kathy Lee said Thursday.
Bronson will interview five candidates for chief on Thursday, Feb. 23, and make recommendations to the Board of Selectmen sometime thereafter, Lee said. Bronson came at the suggestion of attorney Richard Violette after board members said they might need help finding the best-qualified person for the chief’s job.
“We haven’t had to replace a chief like this before,” Lee said.
Medway Fire Chief John Lee — no relation to Kathy Lee — retired from the position, which paid him a $4,000 annual stipend, after more than 30 years.
Bronson, who received 1,803 votes in a losing effort to recapture his Bangor council seat in November, was Brewer’s fire chief for about 10 years and had served as a firefighter for decades, Kathy Lee said.
With town officials beginning to assemble a budget for implementation on July 1, selectmen decided to pursue replacing John Lee with a permanent candidate. Adam Brackett has been the town’s interim fire chief since Lee retired. It is unclear whether Brackett is a candidate for the permanent position.
The search doesn’t necessarily mean that the town has abandoned its efforts to merge the Medway and East Millinocket fire departments, Kathy Lee said.
Originally proposed by Selectman David Dickey, the idea has several benefits, East Millinocket and Medway leaders say. It could help alleviate chronic problems recruiting volunteer firefighters and offset East Millinocket’s problems recruiting younger members.
Clint Linscott, chairman of East Millinocket’s Board of Selectmen, said he loves the idea of consolidating departments and prefers to see more such efforts in the Katahdin region.
East Millinocket, Medway and Millinocket successfully combined recreation departments and a regional economic development board that disburses about $75,000 annually to businesses in the region, he said. East Millinocket and Medway have combined police and schools, he added.