December 06, 2019
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Newly retired parks and rec director recounts highlights from his career in Brewer

Courtesy of Tom Morelli
Courtesy of Tom Morelli
Ken Hanscom retired recently as the director of parks and recreation in Brewer. Hanscom had held the position for 30 years.

Ken Hanscom just completed week two of his retirement.

The Orrington native had spent 30 years as the Brewer Parks and Recreation Department director.

During his time headquartered in the Brewer Auditorium, Hanscom helped build facilities. Perhaps more importantly, he built relationships in his department, throughout the city and around the region.

He said he is enjoying retirement immensely but has nothing but fond memories of his time working for the City of Brewer.

“I miss the people … the friendships I made, the partnerships we developed with businesses,” Hanscom said.

One of the partnerships developed under Hanscom’s watch was the banner advertising program in the Brewer Auditorium. Local businesses spend $400 per year to have a company banner hang inside the facility and are guaranteed at least 200 days of exposure on the marquee outside the building.

With 18 companies on board, Hanscom declined to entertain raising the fee after it was suggested to him.

“We wanted to keep it affordable because we wanted to establish long-term relationships with these businesses. Relationships are the most important thing,” Hanscom said.

That includes a healthy level of cooperation from the Brewer City Council and city managers.

“They were top-notch. They were supportive. They truly worked for the best interests of the city,” he said.

Under Hancom’s tenure, several notable additions have been made to the parks and recreation program.

Maple Street Park is a 6-acre facility located in South Brewer that previously was a junkyard. It includes a baseball field, a soccer field, a 1/3-mile paved walking path, picnic tables, benches and a community garden.

The Dougherty Recreational Complex, the former Washington Street School complex, features two Little League fields, a multipurpose athletic field, a paved walking path, a playground and a parking lot.

A $750,000 renovation was also made to the Brewer Auditorium, the hub of the recreation department. It was brought up to code and had a new heating system installed.

“We made it much more user-friendly,” Hanscom said. “Our goal has always been to make sure the Brewer Auditorium is well maintained and that everybody got to know the staff so it felt like a family.”

The facility is particularly valuable in the winter, when it is open seven days a week, for 100 hours total.

“It opens at 6:30 a.m. for the walkers and closes at 9:30 or 10 after adult volleyball,” Hanscom said.

The Brewer Parks and Recreation Department has 135 youngsters in its after-school program for students in kindergarten through sixth grade and hosts 200 kids in its summer day camps. The department hosts a wide range of programs at various facilities, including Brewer Community School.

Hanscom also helped establish the Brewer Riverwalk trail along the Penobscot River.

“They don’t come any better than Ken Hanscom,” Brewer City Councilman and former Brewer Mayor Jerry Goss said. “He is a quality individual who stands behind his word. And he is fantastic when it comes to dealing with people. He wanted to do what he could to make others feel good about what they were doing.”

Goss said he developed a strong relationship with Hanscom after becoming the principal at Brewer High School. He said Hanscom took the department to a level of excellence.

“He did a great job,” Brewer city councilman Joe Ferris said. “He raised the level of the whole experience through his programs and work ethic.”

Goss noted that Hanscom and his staff always took excellent care of the facilities. Ferris said Hanscom helped raise money for the parks and recreation department to supplement the money it received from the city budget.

“The extra funding he raised allowed them to do a few extra things. They kept the Brewer Auditorium in great shape,” Goss said.

Goss added that Hanscom and his staff always had a tremendous working relationship with the City Council and city managers because they wanted what was best for the community.

“Ken was a big part of that,” Goss said.

Mike Martin, who has been Hanscom’s right-hand man ever since he came to Brewer, has taken over as the director of parks and recreation.

Hanscom hired Martin as the recreation supervisor two months after he came on board.

“Mike was the best hire I’ve ever made,” Hanscom said.

“The biggest hurdle for me was getting a staff in place, and Mike has done a fantastic job. I can’t say enough about him and his honesty and integrity,” Hanscom said.

Hanscom lives in Orono with his wife, Cathy, who is an English as a Second Language tutor at Mary Snow School in Bangor. He graduated from Brewer High School, where he was a member of the golf team.

He earned a degree in parks and recreation management in 1979 from the University of Maine. Hanscom was the parks and recreation director in Dexter for four years and spent five years in that position in Orono before landing the Brewer job.

“I spent 39 years in the profession. There were long hours, but it was very enjoyable,” Hanscom said.

He intends to enjoy his home state with his wife by going on day trips and kayaking. He also plans to spend time on the golf course and is going to help their son, Ryan, renovate on his newly purchased apartment building in Old Town.

 



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