HOULTON, Maine — Town councilors unanimously picked Houlton Police Chief Butch Asselin on Monday night to become the community’s new town manager.
Asselin has served as interim town manager since April, when the council accepted the resignation of manager Gene Conlogue, who served in the position for a year and a half. Asselin had prior interim town manager experience while working in Skowhegan years ago.
Councilors went into executive session with Asselin for approximately a half hour during Monday’s meeting before returning and voting to hire him. During open session, the council also voted to amend his contract to allow him to live outside of town — he resides in New Limerick, just across the Houlton town line. He is the fourth consecutive town manager to live outside of Houlton. The contract also was amended to allow him to supervise his wife, Lauren, who is the municipal tax collector in Houlton.
Asselin said that he will retire from the Police Department so that he can officially cap off his 38-year law enforcement career and focus on being town manager.
“It was a difficult decision for me,” he said Tuesday. “I wanted to make sure this is what I wanted to do, and I wasn’t sure it was the right choice because I loved what I was doing. I was really active in community policing.”
He said that he consulted with his wife and also got advice from Caribou Police Chief Michael Gahagan, who told him that he already had done so much in the law enforcement field that he should step out into this new role.
Asselin started his career in law enforcement in 1975 as a patrol officer with the Skowhegan Police Department, working his way up until he was promoted to chief in 1997. He became chief of the Houlton Police Department in 2007.
He has been a member of the Maine Chiefs of Police Association since 1997, and in 2009 he was certified by the International Chiefs of Police Association as a mentor of new chiefs, serving as an adviser within the state and nationally. He was the recipient of the Maine Chiefs of Police Association “President’s Award” in 2006 and 2012 and has won numerous other accolades.
“One of the first things I will do is get out and start talking to the business community and get a feel for what can be done here,” he said. “I also need to get my feet wet in the office more. I have a lot of support here in the community, I feel, and I am only a half mile away from my old workplace. Houlton is a great town and the people are wonderful here.”
Asselin will receive $77,347 a year, according to Chairman Paul Cleary, an increase of $6,000 over his current $71,000 salary.
Asselin had been performing duties as police chief and interim town manager without increased pay.
Councilors congratulated Asselin after the meeting Monday, and a number of residents also took to social media Tuesday to express congratulations and welcome him to his new position.
Asselin has mainly been working out of the town office since becoming interim town manager.