The search for a new town manager in Freeport is heating up as town councilors prepare to pore over 38 applications and interview several semifinalists in the coming weeks.

Each councilor got a packet Thursday containing all applications and a list of six candidates who have been recommended for interviews by Easton Peabody Consulting Group, an Augusta firm hired to help with the search.

In seeking a replacement for Dale Olmstead, who has been Freeport’s town manager for 30 years, councilors recognize their responsibility to find someone who will respect the way things have been done in the past and bring fresh ideas for the future.

“It’s something we want to be very cautious about,” said Jim Cassida, council chairman. “We want to make every effort to hire someone who will be a good fit for Freeport.”

The council will hold an executive session at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday to review the applications and decide which candidates will be invited for interviews.

The applicants include 16 people from Maine, nine from other New England states and 13 from outside the region, Cassida said.

“The consultant’s observation was that we have a very good group to choose from,” Cassida said.

The town advertised the job opening May 8. The application deadline was June 1.

To develop the job description, Eaton Peabody hosted a public meeting April 18 to learn what qualities townspeople want from a town manager. They sought similar information from town administrators and business leaders, Cassida said.

The ad described Freeport as a tourism and outlet-shopping center anchored by L.L.Bean with many recreational opportunities, a small-town atmosphere and a high quality of life. It has 7,991 residents, a $9.3 million municipal budget, 71 full-time municipal employees and a seven-member council.

The ad sought candidates with a bachelor’s degree or better in public or business administration or a closely related field. Candidates were expected to have at least five years of experience as a municipal manager or similar position, including economic development, finance, budgeting, strategic and long-term planning, labor relations, contract negotiations and policy management.

The ad sought “a visionary with demonstrated leadership, organizational and negotiating skills, an excellent written and oral communicator with the ability to inspire and empower staff and be enthusiastic to the needs of the community.”

Candidates were expected to “have the ability to be decisive when necessary and also find a balance between promoting commercial development and preserving the residential and rural character of the community. Leadership with integrity, honesty, openness and humor combined with creative problem solving will be essential.”

The town manager will be expected to live in Freeport and become an active community member. Salary will be negotiated based on experience and qualifications.

Councilors plan to narrow the field to a few candidates in the coming weeks and gather feedback from townspeople at a public reception for the finalists in August, Cassida said. They hope to have a new town manager on the job by mid-September.

Olmstead plans to stay until Oct. 18 to help ease the transition.

Staff Writer Kelley Bouchard can be contacted at 791-6328 or at:

kbouchard@pressherald.com