NAPLES – Ephrem Paraschak, 29, has served as Denmark’s town manager for the past six years. On July 1, with the departure of Derek Goodine, Paraschak is set to become the Naples town manager.

Paraschak was born in Salt Lake City and moved to Naples at the age of 2. He attended Naples Elementary School, which has since been converted into the town office he will now manage. Paraschak’s father, Rick, is a longtime member of the Naples Board of Selectmen.

Paraschak recently spoke with the Lakes Region Weekly about his management style and the future of Naples town government.

Q: First off, what is the origin of your name?

A: My last name is Eastern European.

Q: Please describe your connection to Naples.

A: I grew up in Naples and attended public schools through the Lake Region school district. Naples is the town in which I was raised and have loved since childhood. I think that it is one of the most unique communities in the entire state of Maine.

Q: How did you decide to get involved in town government administration?

A: I have always been interested in local government and grew up in a family that volunteered extensively in Naples on boards and committees as well as on the Naples Fire Department. When I attended Syracuse University for my undergraduate degree I became captivated by the Maxwell School’s political science program and gained a better understanding of government throughout the country, but more specifically a better understanding of local government. Luckily for me I was able to obtain a job working in the planning and public works department for the town of Gorham right after college and my interest in local government continued from there.

Q: What is your vision for town government in an era of austerity?

A: Local government needs to continue to evolve to serve the needs of its citizens. It is no secret that municipalities have to make hard decisions on where to place the limited amount of revenue that they have to work with. With increasing costs and declining funding I firmly believe that the future of local government will be found in regionalization of services between municipalities in everything from public safety to recreation programs. Many towns in Maine are working toward such collaborations, with the towns of Naples and Casco having already run a successful combined waste disposal and recycling facility together for the last 15 years.

Q: Can you describe the Poland Spring aquifer permit renewal controversies in Denmark? What were the lessons you drew from that multi-year saga?

A: The town of Denmark and Poland Spring (Nestle Waters North America) worked through two successful permitting processes during my tenure in Denmark to extract spring water from privately held land. Water extraction in Maine has been controversial and there was much concern about Denmark’s permit process, especially in 2008. I found immediately that being as open as possible with the entire process was paramount, and it built trust between all the parties involved.

Additionally, Denmark has a comprehensive water extraction ordinance and following that ordinance as required throughout the entire process was key to addressing the concerns of the town, Poland Spring and concerned citizens in Denmark.

Q: What are the challenges and opportunities for town government in Naples and Denmark? What similarities and differences do you see between the two towns?

A: Both towns are facing the same financial problems of declining state aid and revenue sharing while still having to deal with rising costs. Both municipalities also stand to benefit from regionalizing services with other towns. Naples, unlike Denmark, will likely have to address expanding commercial growth and development in the next several years.

I have no doubt that each town will be able to overcome any upcoming challenges while improving their municipal services and maintaining their respective unique small-town qualities.

Q: How do you envision the economic future of Naples in an age of expensive fossil fuel energy, wage stagnation, and political paralysis? What is town government’s role when it comes to job growth and business development?

A: The town of Naples has a prosperous future ahead of it and will overcome any growing pains. With that said, it is the role of the municipal government to implement the policies of the elected officials with regard to economic development and utilize the town’s current ordinances to give those elected members of the community the tools they need to manage growth in a way that benefits business owners and citizens alike.

Q: Why did you return to this region after graduating from Syracuse?

A: Naples and the entire Lake Region area is a special place. I did think about leaving Maine after college but was pulled back to the state as I have many fond memories of growing up here. It is easy for young people to leave Maine and go out of state to work. I think that we as a state have a lot of work to do to create a better environment that retains its young people.

Ephrem Paraschak, Naples’ new town manager, is proud to return to serve his hometown. 

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