Madison Town Manager Denise Ducharme at her desk Thursday at the Town Office. She was appointed recently to the position, succeeding Tim Curtis, who became the Somerset County administrator. Zara Norman/Morning Sentinel

MADISON — The new town manager says her leading priority is continuing the effort to attract new businesses that would help in the push to revitalize the former mill town.

Denise Ducharme began work recently as Madison’s top administrator, succeeding Tim Curtis, who resigned in June after eight years as town manager to become the Somerset County administrator.

Ducharme, 63, said she hopes to follow his example.

“I would like to see (Madison) be a thriving community,” she said Thursday. “When we lost the paper mill, almost 10 years ago now, we could have become a ghost town. But thanks to (Curtis), he worked really hard to make sure we did not become a ghost town. I want to continue his work getting new businesses into town … and maintaining existing businesses so we don’t lose them.”

Ducharme, who was hired on a three-year contract at a salary of $81,000, has been a Madison resident for 40 years. She said she has seen big changes in town in that time, including the closure of the mill, known as Madison Paper Industries when it closed in 2016, but is optimistic about the future.

One of Ducharme’s first goals is to revisit the town’s comprehensive plan, published 10 years ago, and update it for the next decade. She said she wants to build off Curtis’ success in bringing businesses to town, but is looking to take it a step further by filling vacant lots downtown. She also wants to see additional housing and expanded recreational opportunities.


Revitalization efforts in town got a jolt with the resumption of manufacturing by TimberHP at the site of the former mill. TimberHP makes wood fiber insulation and other components meant for residential and light commercial construction markets. A ceremony was held last month to mark the start of manufacturing again on the site.

Madison’s proximity to the Kennebec River, Lake Wesserunsett and Sugarloaf Mountain could make it a prime destination for outdoor enthusiasts, Ducharme said. She said she is considering adding a full-time position of director of parks and recreation to prioritize that goal.

Ducharme also said she wants to fill a long-vacant role of animal control officer by collaborating with surrounding communities, including Skowhegan and Norridgewock, pooling resources to share one regional full-time officer.

“I want to be forward-thinking and visionary, if you will, and willing to explore options that are going to be beneficial to the town,” she said.

Although Ducharme has never held an administrative role quite like the one in Madison, she is no stranger to public service.

Born and raised in Waterville, Ducharme worked previously for the state for 20 years as an auditor and unclaimed property manager. She grew up in a house of civil servants. Her father was Richard “Spike” Carey, who was Waterville’s longest-serving mayor. Carey was also Belgrade’s first town manager, and represented Waterville in the Maine House of Representatives.


Ducharme’s mother was a Waterville city clerk and the deputy registrar of deeds for Kennebec County.

Ducharme’s husband is John “Jack” Ducharme III, a Republican representing District 71 — Cornville, Madison and Norridgewock — in the state House.

Despite her pedigree, Ducharme said Thursday that becoming a town manager had never been “on her radar.”

She had worked since 2007 in the private sector doing software consulting. But in June, she said, she just been laid off as Curtis resigned. Several people in town reached out to Ducharme, she said, to ask if she would consider applying for the position.

“I knew that they were looking for a town manager, but it was not something that I was looking for,” Ducharme said. “I thought I would continue in the software consulting, client services area, and that didn’t happen. But I’m excited to serve the people of Madison and get to know them.”

Ducharme said she knows she has two ears and one mouth, and intends to do twice as much listening as talking.

“Especially as a manager of unclaimed property, you know, you’re dealing with citizens across the state and all different districts: Republicans, Democrats, independents, Greens and whatever else is out there,” she said. “I think one of the best qualities that I bring to this is just being able to listen and look for common ground. How can we work together best to accomplish what we all want to see happen?”

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