FREEPORT – Peter Joseph, 30, the town manager in Lincoln, N.H., since 2008, is the new town manager of Freeport.

Joseph signed a three-year contract with a starting salary of $95,000 on Friday, which the Board of Selectmen will ratify at their next meeting, scheduled for Tuesday, Aug. 7, at 6:30 p.m., at Freeport Town Hall.

Joseph will start in Freeport on Sept. 17. Dale Olmstead, Jr., who is retiring after 30 years on the job, will be staying until mid-October to help with the transition.

“I’m very excited to be selected for this position,” Joseph said Monday shortly after the announcement was made. “The interview and selection process was competitive and there were a lot of well-qualified applicants. It was an honor to be considered among the finalists, let alone to be selected for the position.”

Joseph said he was grateful to have Olmstead staying on to aid with the transition.

“I think it’s going to allow me to pick up on the projects that he has been working on without losing too much momentum, which is good for the town,” he said. “It will also allow me to gain some invaluable insight about the town that can only come from someone with years and years of experience on the job.”

Jim Cassida, the chairman of the Freeport Town Council, said that Joseph had the full support of the board during its deliberations last month.

“We’re all excited about the potential that Peter brings (to Freeport),” he said. “He really understands the needs of a community like Freeport. He seemed to have a good understanding of how to deal with the public and how to be open and engaging.”

Joseph said he saw a lot of parallels between Freeport and Lincoln, N.H.

“Both towns have a strong seasonal tourist draw,” he said. “Both towns also have a strong sense of community that comes from the local residents, and you can tell that they genuinely care about the well being of the town. Freeport is obviously a little bigger, with more commercial development, although there is a similar feeling between the two towns.”

“Freeport is in a relatively stable position, which is enviable in today’s economic climate,” Joseph said when asked about what he saw as some of the bigger issues facing the town. “I think I’ll hold off on diagnosing any major problems until I get a little bit more time on the job.”

Joseph and his wife Jessica hope to be moved to Maine full time before Joseph starts work in September.

“We are really looking forward to moving to Maine,” he said. “My wife grew up in Maine, and I have family throughout the state, so it won’t be too big of a jump. The Maine coast is beautiful, especially the Freeport area.”

Cassida said that according to both the town charter and Joseph’s contract, the Freeport town manager must be a Freeport resident. Cassida said Joseph has six months to move to Freeport full time, though the council could grant an extension if he is having difficulty finding proper housing.

Joseph was selected for the position over the other finalist, James Doar, 34, who has been the town manager in Bethel since 2009. Cassida said that it was a close call between the two finalists.

“They were both very highly qualified candidates,” he said. “Whichever once of them we hired would have been good for Freeport.”

While he is looking forward to coming to Freeport, Joseph said, he would miss Lincoln. “It’s a been great place to live. There’s always something to do outdoors, and the different seasons are beautiful in the mountains. In terms of a work environment, I’ll really miss the team atmosphere among the town employees. The elected officials also work very well with the staff, which is always a plus.”

O.J. Robinson, the chairman of the Lincoln, N.H., Board of Selectmen, called Joseph a good leader who built a solid reputation with the town’s employees.

“It was overwhelming the respect that he earned,” Robinson said Monday, adding that Joseph also had a strong working relationship with the selectmen. “It’s a very collaborative atmosphere,” he said.

Robinson said he would miss working with Joseph, but acknowledged that taking the Freeport job is “a good step for him professionally and Freeport is going to benefit from having him there.”

One of the biggest issues that Joseph had to face during his time as town manager in Lincoln was the disaster recovery from tropical storm Irene in August 2011. Major damage involved a bridge – the main point of entry into the Loon Mountain ski resort collapsed into the Pemigewasset River during the storm.

Joseph quickly worked to get a temporary bridge in place, and repairs to the main bridge are still ongoing.

“We have a few major projects that are still under way,” he said. “Unfortunately I won’t be able to see those projects through, but I’m very glad to have started the ball rolling on the repairs. I’m proudest of the way that the entire town came together immediately following that storm. Everyone did whatever they could to help.”

Molly Mahar, the vice president of marketing for Loon Mountain who has served with Joseph on the Lincoln-Woodstock Chamber of Commerce, said Joseph has been “great to work with.”

“He definitely is forward looking and forward thinking,” she added. “I wish him well, and it sounds like a great opportunity for him (in Freeport), but we’ll miss him in Lincoln.”

Peter Joseph, who has been the town manager in Lincoln, N.H., since 2008, was named the new Freeport Town Manager this week. (Staff photo by Mike Higgins)

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