February 27, 2020
Down East Latest News | Hampden Death | Bangor Metro | CMP Corridor | Today's Paper

How a new town manager aims to modernize systems and boost civic engagement

Lauren Abbate | BDN
Lauren Abbate | BDN
Former Thomaston Town Clerk Kara George took over as interim town manager in September after the resignation of longtime town manager Val Blastow earlier this year.

THOMASTON, Maine ― After the abrupt resignation of the longtime town manager last year, the selectboard has appointed Kara George to fill the role permanently.

“We have turned the page and are starting a new chapter in Thomaston that is so exciting to me,” said George, who has served as interim town manager since September. “My biggest goal is to inspire everyone to join in.”

As town manager, George wants to focus on modernizing the inner workings of town government.

An overhaul of the town’s website is underway to provide more online services for residents. An update of the town office’s 20-year-old phone system is also in order, George said, as well as getting direct deposit for employees.

“We’re really striving to move our municipal government up with the technology of the times,” George said.

Next month, the town office will move from an outdated space on Main Street to the former Lura Libby School, which has undergone a $1.1 million building upgrade. The town office will close during the first week of February to allow for the move. George said the town will host an open house for its new office sometime in March.

George, who said she felt emotional when the hiring committee asked her what community meant to her, also wants to inspire more residents to get involved with town government.

“To me a community is not the buildings or the infrastructure but a feeling of being a part of something special,” George said. “A community is a family that takes care of each other.”

Before working for Thomaston, George worked for the city of Rockland in the finance department for seven years. George had been Thomaston’s town clerk since 2017, working closely with former town manager Valmore Blastow.

Blastow resigned from his post after more than 20 years in May, citing a “toxic work environment.” Around the time of his resignation, concerns about transparency and open communication within town government were raised by residents and town officials.

Since beginning her role as interim town manager, these are issues George has sought to resolve. She hopes her push for open communication and transparency will help heal any wounds lingering from the tumultuous period the town went through last year.

“These last few months I feel that I’ve built trusting and strong working relationships with town employees, department heads and the selectboard members, with an open-door policy and full transparency that is vital to the functionality of town government,” George said.

The town plans to hire a permanent clerk in the coming months.

 


Have feedback? Want to know more? Send us ideas for follow-up stories.

You may also like