LINCOLN, Maine — The Town Council hopes by mid-December to choose a new town manager who can help redevelop the former Lincoln Paper and Tissue LLC site off Katahdin Avenue, officials said Wednesday.
Town officials want to begin pursuing that project in 2017 after the bankruptcy process ends. Ideally, the mill site will be among several places revitalized next year, council Chairman Steve Clay said.
“We want to attract some kind of business to town, not just smaller businesses but maybe something out on the Access Road that could do some kind of manufacturing,” Clay said Wednesday. “Lincoln is a hub community, and there’s a lot here.”
Lincoln Paper and Tissue attorney D. Sam Anderson said he hopes to file a plan of liquidation in the near future and resolve claims made by remaining debtors. No filing dates have been set, he said Wednesday.
The paper mill filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in September 2015, eventually laying off 128 workers employed there at the time. A boiler explosion that occurred in November 2013 left the mill leaking cash by ending Lincoln Paper and Tissue’s ability to make pulp and paper.
Town officials have several projects going that they hope will bring more business to town. A contractor just finished widening West Broadway from the Hannaford Supermarket lot to River Road, which also is known as Access Road because it connects to exit 227 of Interstate 95.
Town officials see the project as a job and business creator that will broaden Lincoln’s appeal as a service hub to the Lincoln Lakes and Katahdin regions. They said it will effectively free nearly 254 acres for business development along West Broadway while eliminating the widening costs individual businesses would pay for moving onto that road.
Maine Department of Transportation officials have said that an increase in traffic would be borne by the businesses that would create it. This has caused several enterprises to locate elsewhere, town officials have said.
Over the next year, town officials expect to apply for federal and state grants to pay for the installation of water and sewer lines to River Road and the town airport, Clay said.
The new lines will make the largely undeveloped River Road area much more attractive to developers seeking to be in Lincoln and near the highway.
Peggy Daigle, interim manager of Lincoln, and the council have chosen six finalists to replace her and expect to make that choice after Daigle schedules finalist interviews. No interview dates have been set, she said.
Daigle and Clay also are leaving open the option to interview the other 16 candidates who have not been named finalists. With three council seats contested in Tuesday’s election, the new council might appreciate that option, Clay said.
“These six candidates are solid enough,” Daigle said. “They all have experience in municipal management. Some have more than others, but they’re all solid.”
Daigle earns $60 per hour to work four-day weeks at six hours per day. The Town Council voted 7-0 in August to hire her on an interim basis. Daigle has served as an interim city manager in Caribou and was town manager in Enfield, Houlton, Old Town and Patten. She had served as the part-time executive manager of the Bangor Target Area Development Corp. from October 2011 to March 2013, when she began work for Millinocket.
She left the Millinocket job in April 2015, the same month she began her most recent previous administrative posting as interim town manager in Howland. She left Howland on July 1, 2015.
Daigle replaced Ron Weatherbee, who had been Lincoln’s town manager since the council voted 7-0 in July 2014 to name him interim town manager. A teacher for 33 years, Weatherbee now teaches at Penobscot Valley High School of Howland.