NEW GLOUCESTER — The Board of Selectmen approved hiring a new fire/rescue chief and library director in a unanimous vote Monday night.

Jon Kiernan and Lee Shaw will start their jobs as fire/rescue chief and library director, respectively, later this month.

Former Fire/Rescue Chief Toby Martin abruptly resigned late last year, tendering his immediate resignation from the department Dec. 6. Martin had served with the department since 2013 and was hired as chief in February 2019.
Deputy Chief Craig Bouchard served as the interim chief during the search process for a new chief.

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It is unclear why Martin left. A number of members resigned from the Fire/Rescue Department under his tenure, including seven within his first year on the job.  Bouchard and Town Manager Brenda Fox-Howard declined to comment at the time on Martin’s departure.

Kiernan, a 19-year veteran of the profession, is set to take his new post Feb. 15. He is moving to Maine by way of Oklahoma, where he most recently served as the fire chief and emergency manager for the Iowa Tribe of Oklahoma, a federally recognized tribe based in the city of Perkins. According to the tribe’s website, there are over 800 enrolled members.

Kiernan’s starting salary is $68,629, according to the current fiscal year budget but latest draft for next year’s budget includes an $8,871 pay increase.

Selelectman Peter Bragdon said he would have preferred to wait until the end of the budget season to hire a new fire/rescue chief.

“The fire/rescue budget is going to be in the spotlight this budget season. The cost of this department continues to rise and is driving the town budget,” Bragdon wrote in an email to the Lakes Region Weekly Wednesday morning.

“I hope nothing (but) the best,” he said.

Selectboard Chairperson Karen Gilles said she hopes Kiernan brings “improved morale” to the department and will contribute to drafting a new fire ordinance.

In a memo to the Selectboard, Fox-Howard said Kiernan was selected from a pool of eight finalists by a hiring panel that consisted of herself, Selectboard member Tammy Donovan, NGFR’s EMS manager and fire captain and a fire chief from a local department.

The library will reopen on Monday for curbside service under the leadership of its new director, Lee Shaw.

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Disagreements over the budget shut the library down last September following a majority of voters’ rejection of the proposed budget for a second time. The $102,033 budget was approved in a third vote in December.

Without an approved budget, the town was forced to shut the library’s doors and lay off then-Library Director Suzan Hawkins and Assistant Librarian Carla McAllister.

In a letter posted to community website NGXchange late last year, Hawkins announced that she would not re-apply for the position she held for 38 years.

Shaw is currently listed as the director for Effingham Public Library in New Hampshire, a position he has held since June 2015, according to its website.

Fox-Howard said in her memo that the North Carolina native now resides in Maine and previously worked at the Brooklyn Public Library in New York and Wake County Library in North Carolina. He also worked at Conjuring Arts, a nonprofit research library with a focus on magic in New York City. Shaw holds a master’s degree in information science from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

“To come in during a pandemic, to go curbside first, I think will have an opportunity to learn a lot of other things out back without having some external pressures,” Gilles said Wednesday.

The approved budget lists the two library employees’ cumulative wages at $77,538 but does not give a breakdown of individual salaries. Fox-Howard, Selectboard member Linda Chase, Library Board of Trustees Chairperson CeCe Rohrbach and a local librarian sat on the hiring panel.

There is no update on the hiring process for the assistant librarian. Interviews for the position took place Jan. 29, according to the municipal calendar.

 

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