MILLINOCKET, Maine — After more than 30 years in town government, the last thing Peggy Daigle wanted was another government job, she said Wednesday.
“I really wanted to have a life,” said the 60-year-old grandmother of two. “I was looking forward to the next phase of my life.”
But the Town Council has made an offer that Daigle thinks she cannot refuse.
Councilors offered Daigle the opportunity to succeed Town Manager Eugene Conlogue and interim Town Manager Charles Pray as the town’s next top government official, council Chairman John Davis said.
The offer was made Tuesday. If all goes well, the council will vote on March 14 to ratify Daigle’s tentative contract, Davis said.
She and Davis declined to give contract details. Negotiations are progressing “but there are still a few things we need to talk about,” Davis said.
Daigle has served as an interim city manager in Caribou and was town manager in Enfield, Houlton, Old Town and Patten. An East Millinocket resident, she was East Millinocket’s administrative assistant in the 1990s and served as director of Municipal Geographical Information Systems for the James W. Sewall Co. in Old Town.
Daigle resigned in May 2011 after seven years as Old Town’s manager. City Council Chairman David Mahan said at the time that Daigle’s resignation “was not for cause, simply a choice on the part of the City Council to take the city into a new direction with new leadership.”
Millinocket’s councilors chose her out of 32 candidates, including Pray and five other finalists, Davis said.
“She is from the area and she has a wealth of experience in government and economic development. She dealt with the Old Town mill revitalization” and helped keep Old Town Canoes and Kayaks in Old Town, Davis said.
Her economic development experience helped make Daigle the strongest candidate for the job, Davis said.
The new Great Northern Paper Co. machine on Katahdin Avenue has been dormant for several years and the Katahdin region has suffered a declining population and an unemployment rate double the state average.
GNP and parent company Cate Street Capital are razing several GNP buildings as part of plans to build an industrial park on site. The park will complement a torrefied wood machine and a natural gas pipeline proposal that the LePage administration supports.
Daigle has served as the part-time executive manager of the Bangor Target Area Development Corp. since October 2011. The regional economic development agency has helped businesses from Hampden to Old Town since 1972, helping to develop successful parks in Bangor, Hampden, and Hermon. It owns the Target Technology Center, an industrial park that is home to several fledgling enterprises developed with the University of Maine, Daigle said.
Daigle is experienced, she said, at helping entrepreneurs “who are traveling through the Valley of Death on their projects and trying to get nontraditional financing to advance their projects to a state where they can get financing from more traditional means.”
If her deal with Millinocket is made, Daigle said she plans to first meet with councilors, town government staff and local businesses to see how she can help.
“Millinocket is as much my hometown as East Millinocket and Medway have been. Many of my relatives live in all three towns,” Daigle said. “The economy [of the area] is so tightly linked that I consider it all one hometown.”
Given her business experience and Millinocket’s economic needs, Daigle said that it “seems a bit selfish” to retire when she could help the area.
“So I am coming back into government to see if I can help,” Daigle said.
This story was amended on March 7, to correct the chronology of business parks created in Bangor, Hampden, and Hermon.
Bangor Daily News writer Dawn Gagnon contributed to this report.