GORHAM – The second in command at Gorham Police Department said on Tuesday he’s ready to step in as acting chief on Election Day, when longtime Chief Ronald Shepard retires.

Lt. Christopher Sanborn, 45, was appointed as acting police chief on Tuesday by the Town Council in a 5-0 vote (Shonn Moulton and Suzanne Phillips absent). Sanborn’s appointment becomes effective on Tuesday, Nov. 4, and terminates when the town hires Shepard’s successor or on Feb. 4, 2015.

Sanborn was promoted to Shepard’s right-hand man in 2005.

“I’ve had a good mentor for nine years,” Sanborn said before Tuesday’s council meeting. “I think it will be a seamless transition.”

Shepard, 66, retires on Tuesday, Nov. 4, after 42 years in the Gorham Police Department with the past 19 years as the chief. Shepard is running unopposed for a three-year term on the Town Council in next month’s municipal election.

Shepard, accompanied by his wife, Debra, attended Tuesday’s meeting.

Town Clerk Jennifer Elliott read a 286-word town resolution honoring Shepard. In recognizing Shepard, the resolution read in part that the Town Council “expresses its appreciation to Ronald W. Shepard for his professional accomplishments and his service and dedication to the members of the Gorham Police Department, municipal staff and the Gorham community.”

Town Council Chairman Michael Phinney then said, “Thank you Chief Shepard, you’ve done a great job.”

The town hasn’t advertised the chief’s job yet. Town Manager David Cole expects the Town Council would begin a search for a new chief sometime after Election Day. Sanborn said Wednesday he intends to apply for the job.

Before Sanborn’s appointment as acting chief, Shepard praised his prote?ge?.

“He’s done an excellent job,” Shepard said, “no complaints.”

Sanborn will head the Gorham department of 23 sworn officers. Sanborn said he’s looking forward for the opportunity to lead the operation.

“We’ve got a good group of people, a good organization,” Sanborn said.

A graduate of Sacopee Valley High School in 1987, Sanborn graduated from Southern Maine Technical College in 1989 and joined Gorham police as a patrol officer. He was promoted to sergeant in 1992.

In July 2005, Sanborn succeeded Ted Blais as the Gorham lieutenant. When the American Journal asked if he’s ready to assume the chief’s role, he replied, “I certainly am.”

In other action, the Town Council paved the way to sell the house at 10 Preble St. that the town bought in 2012 for $239,900. It was one of two village homes the town bought with an eye on razing for additional downtown parking.

Last month, the Town Council rejected a proposal to demolish the barn at 10 Preble St. to make way for a parking plan that drew opposition from Preble Street residential neighbors. This week, the Town Council authorized a plan that would dispose of the property, returning it to the tax rolls. Phil Gagnon, a former town councilor, indicated he would be interested in making a bid for the property.

In discussing disposition plans for the property, the board approved a suggestion by Town Councilor Bruce Roullard for a conditional zone that would allow a three-unit residential property or a two-unit residential property with an accessory space for a professional office. The house has an attached barn.

The town could retain the property’s back yard for future use.

The board voted 5-0 to send the conditional zone proposal for the property to the Planning Board for a public hearing and its recommendation.

Also in a measure added Tuesday to its agenda, the Town Council 5-0 ratified Cole’s resolution of the lawsuit involving the so-called Phinney Street Extension case settled earlier this year in mediation. The case reversed a Gorham eminent domain seizure in 2002.

Earlier in Tuesday’s meeting, dissent continued as Town Councilor Matthew Robinson rebuked comments in an American Journal story on Sept. 25 that contained Councilor Suzanne Phillips’ criticism of the board.

Phillips, a School Committee candidate who is not seeking re-election to the Town Council, spoke out in the article about her dissatisfaction with the Town Council.

Robinson, who waved and quoted from the American Journal issue in Tuesday’s meeting, criticized Phillips’ remarks about several issues. Her comments included lack of Town Council action in dealing with verification of a town official’s signature on a document in the Phinney Street Extension eminent domain case.

Phillips in July opposed the council tabling action to send the document to a forensic lab to be analyzed. Since, authenticity of the document is under police investigation after the state’s Office of Attorney General declined to review the matter earlier this year.

In the Sept. 25 story, she cited the long route to resolve “accusations of fraud.”

“This is smoke and mirrors,” Robinson described Phillips comments in the story.

Lt. Christopher Sanborn


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