HOWLAND, Maine — Police work and town management might seem light-years apart, but to David Wilson, one naturally progresses to the other, he said Thursday.
That’s why Wilson is eager to begin work Aug. 10 as Howland’s latest town manager, succeeding another cop-turned-manager, former Lincoln police Chief William Lawrence.
“You can stay in law enforcement your entire career, especially in a larger department. But in a rural department, where there is less opportunity [for diversified experience], you can look toward town management as the next step up,” Wilson said Thursday. “To me, it is taking every experience and every bit of training that I’ve had to that next level.”
Howland’s Board of Selectmen voted 5-0 on July 11 to hire Wilson, an investigator with the Milo Police Department, at $52,000 annually. Wilson, 48, was the best of a thin crop of candidates, according to new board Chairman Tom Hunter, who succeeded Chairman Glenn Brawn when the latter opted to not run for re-election prior to the town’s annual meeting in June.
The board interviewed four finalists out of 13 candidates supplied by the law firm of Eaton-Peabody of Bangor before selecting Wilson. Three of the four had prior town management experience, but Wilson’s professionalism and knowledge of the area counted in his favor, Hunter said.
Wilson’s family had a camp for decades in Enfield and Wilson knows the area well, Hunter said. He also understands the town’s need to continue economic development programs begun under former Milo Town Manager Jane Jones in May 2009.
Those efforts include the nearly completed revitalization of the former Howland tannery site off Route 2 and the installation of a fish bypass adjacent to it, the replacement of the town’s two bridges over the Penobscot and Piscataquis rivers, the allowance of all-terrain vehicles on Penobscot Avenue, Willow and Water streets and the Coffin Street bridge over the Piscataquis and the ongoing identification of several other properties around town for development.
With its access to the rivers, Interstate 95’s Exit 217, and Routes 2, 155 and 116, Howland is a bedroom community just 33 miles from Bangor that also offers exceptional commercial and industrial opportunities, Wilson said.
“There are things that Mr. Lawrence started. My goal is to continue them. There’s not a lot to change. It’s a nice community,” Wilson said. “It has come a long way in the last few years.”