ELLSWORTH, Maine — City officials have picked an interim city manager and begun the process of finding a long-term replacement for Michelle Beal, who is leaving her job later this month.

Bob Crosthwaite, chairman of the Ellsworth City Council, said Monday that Beal’s last day on the job will be March 20. Beal has been Ellsworth’s city manager since September 2007 and has worked for the city since 1995, when she was hired as deputy treasurer.

Beal is leaving to take a job as the top administrator with the Bangor law firm Rudman Winchell.

Beal was in Washington, D.C., Tuesday and could not be reached for comment.

Crosthwaite said Monday that city officials in Ellsworth are sorry to see Beal go. She served as Ellsworth’s finance director for many years and as interim city manager in 2003 and again just before being appointed city manager more than seven years ago.

“There’s been a lot of sadness [about her leaving],” Crosthwaite said. “She’s always been a good spokesperson for the city. We feel she has great integrity.”

As an example, Crosthwaite cited Beal’s refusal at one point to accept a pay raise that the City Council offered to her.

“She knew it was a tough budget year,” Crosthwaite said. “Other [employees] weren’t getting raises.”

Beal has been conscientious, well-organized and professional in her approach to her job, Crosthwaite added. He credited her with helping to complete some major projects for the city, including the construction of a new wastewater treatment plant, the recent redevelopment of the former Moore school, Ellsworth’s withdrawal last year from RSU 24, and an agreement with the Maine Department of Transportation to establish a new way to assess impact fees for development projects.

Ellsworth has hired former Maine Department of Transportation Commissioner David Cole, who now works as a consultant, as interim city manager. Cole already has spent a few days at City Hall getting acclimated to his temporary post, according to Crosthwaite. Cole will be expected to work at least three days per week and will be paid by the hour for time he puts in beyond that, until a new city manager is hired, he said.

Don Gerrish of the consulting firm Eaton Peabody, which the council has hired to conduct the search for a new top administrator, met in public Monday night with council members and city staff to discuss the process. He said 35 to 40 people are expected to apply for the job and that the names of the two or three finalists will be made public before a decision is made.

Gerrish estimated that, if the search process goes well, the city might have a new city manager in place by sometime in June.

Ellsworth residents who want to weigh in on the city manager search can email Gerrish at dgerrish@eatonpeabody.com.

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Bill Trotter

A news reporter in coastal Maine for more than 20 years, Bill Trotter writes about how the Atlantic Ocean and the state's iconic coastline help to shape the lives of coastal Maine residents and visitors....