WISCASSET — Dennis Simmons, Wiscasset’s emergency medical services director, will become the new town manager. The Select Board unanimously approved the appointment on Wednesday.

Effective Aug. 3, Simmons will replace John O’Connell, the acting town manager, who announced his retirement in February.

O’Connell, acted as interim town manager after the previous manager, Marian Anderson, resigned in 2018 to become town manager of Houlton.

While Wiscasset has a population of just over 3,600, according to the U.S. Census, O’Connell said the town has “a lot of things that aren’t easy to juggle.”

“For a town with under 4,000 people, we have an airport, a wastewater treatment plant, a recreation center and a waterfront,” he said. “At my age, I couldn’t put the time and effort in that’s necessary to manage the town, it was time for someone new to step in.”

A Maine native, Simmons has worked in EMS for the past 20 years, but has served Wiscasset since February 2019. While his tenure in Wiscasset has been relatively short, he said he’s thankful to “stay in the same building” surrounded by the people who have become “like a family” to him.

Simmons said he’s proud of the work he did as EMS director to hire more permanent, full-time first responders, which helped solidify peoples’ schedules.

“When I took over the EMS, they were very short-staffed and overtime was outrageously high,” said Simmons. “We hired a lot of really good people here and now the schedule is filled everyday. Before, we had people who were here 24 hours, five days in a row. Now, we have a really good crew here now, and I’m really proud of that.”

Simmons said one of his first goals as town manager is to hire a town treasurer.

“We’ve been without an official treasurer for a while, so we really do need one, especially this year,” he said. “Everyone’s revenue is down because of COVID-19, so someone needs to keep a close eye on that ball.”

Long term, he said he wants to learn more about the diverse town and resolve some longer issues, namely, the downtown Maine Department of Transportation project, which many in Wiscasset opposed.

In 2017 Wiscasset sued MDOT in an attempt to block a $5 million project aimed at improving the flow of traffic through downtown. The project would widen the streets, eliminating all downtown parking for the nearly 20 small storefronts lining Route 1.

In April 2018 Wiscasset residents voted overwhelmingly to drop the lawsuit and allow the department to move forward with its plans.

In his new position, Simmons said he’s most excited about building positive relationships with the people in Wiscasset, something he found difficult to do as the EMS director.

“When we meet people in the EMS, those people are usually having a really bad day because they need an ambulance,” said Simmons. “I’m just looking forward to new challenges.”

Erin Bean, deputy EMS direct will fill his place in the town’s ambulance department until a replacement EMS director is hired.

Comments are not available on this story.