Lisa Thompson of South Portland is the first-ever manager of the brand new Wescustogo Hall & Community Center in North Yarmouth. Alex Lear / The Forecaster

NORTH YARMOUTH — It’s not surprising that Lisa Thompson’s first weeks as director of the newly completed Wescustogo Hall & Community Center have been a bit of a whirlwind.

The aroma of fresh paint and woodwork filled the air, and the walls echoed with the resonance which largely unfurnished buildings have. Along with overseeing the delivery and placement of the furniture, the South Portland woman was preparing Oct. 24 – day four on the job – to decorate the walls with barn boards and a photo mosaic featuring the names and visages of community members who had donated to the building’s construction. The phones were still offline.

With her first day being Oct. 21, the center’s Nov. 2 grand opening was fast approaching. Thompson felt welcomed in her new job as she prepared for that milestone.

“This week has been really something; it’s just refreshing, it’s been nice, people have been wonderful,” she said. “People are really excited about this project. It’s nice to be a part of that.”

Thompson is enthused about being part of the facility’s beginning. “I’m excited to see the growth that will take place here. … The townspeople should feel like this is their place, and they should feel like when they walk in here, they feel welcome. I hope to accomplish that.”

The nearly 20,000-square-foot building at 120 Memorial Highway (Route 9) replaces the original Wescustogo Hall grange on Route 115 that was destroyed by fire in 2013.

“It’s open, it’s light and it’s bright, and it’s well-thought-out. The rooms and the spaces are going to be great for multi-purpose (activities),” Thompson said, praising the ability to partition the new Wescustogo Hall portion into one, two or three spaces – a plus in terms of maximizing program potential.

The town hired Thompson from a pool of 20 applicants. Town Manager Rosemary Roy on Oct. 23 praised her experience, saying Thompson is “very skilled in this profession. … She has a lively personality.”

Thompson most recently spent two and a half years as Wiscasset’s parks and recreation director. She was recreation manager in her hometown of South Portland from 2003-17, and prior to that was recreation coordinator for a year with Scarborough Community Services. Before that, she was a program director at an earlier three-year stint in Wiscasset.

During her time in South Portland, “I did everything from youth sports, to summer camps, to senior programming,” as well as special events, she said. In Wiscasset her role was more administrative, handling budgets, facility maintenance, grants and capital improvement projects.

But when she saw the Wescustogo Hall position advertised on the Maine Municipal Association website, Thompson knew she could put her facilities management experience to good use. Since that is an element of past jobs she has particularly loved, she thought to herself that “I could really have fun with this.”

“My friends in parks and rec like to tease that I’ve been around,” Thompson said. “… But I hope to be here for a while; this seems really comfortable to me.”

Another plus: her youngest daughter is a freshman at Greely High, less than 3 miles down the road.

She planned to get the grand opening behind her before setting any programming goals, although activities like family open gym time, walking, youth basketball, fitness and dance classes will be back soon.

Among Thompson’s six-month aims are getting to know the people in town and hear their visions for the new space. Residents can reach her at 829-5555 and [email protected], and make appointments to swing by and meet during her 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. workdays.

A Wescustogo link off northyarmouth.org should be ready by the holidays, when the town’s tree lighting is held there, and Thompson plans to promote the facility’s events on Facebook and Instagram as well.

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