Lee-Ann Upham, who has served as a selectman in Thomaston for 18 years, wants to continue work on a number of ongoing town projects including development of the prison land, sewer improvements and improvements to the downtown facade.

Upham is one of three candidates running for two three-year terms on the Board of Selectmen in the June 14 election. Incumbent Peter Lammert and newcomer Terry Colson Jr. are also running for those seats.

She said people have asked her to run for re-election. “To have served as long as I have is probably the most humbling thing,” she said. “Consecutively. You can’t imagine how that makes me feel. …It keeps me going.”

Upham has served on both the budget committee and the Board of Selectmen. She said she is happy with the direction the town is moving in.

“I have the utmost confidence in Val [Town Manager Valmore Blastow Jr.],” she said.

She said the town manager has done a good job of finding ways to pay for the large pieces of equipment the town needs.

“He knew where the money was going to come from and where it was fine to take it so it wasn’t going to hit the taxpayer all at once,” she said.

“I want to see us move forward carefully,” she said when asked her number one priority. “We have still the prison land to be dealt with, and it’s taken a lot longer than I think some of the public would have imagined it taking, but when the economy tanked you can’t blame a developer holding back a little bit.”

She noted that the Board of Selectmen recently approved work being done on sewer and infrastructure improvements for the former prison property that will pave the way for future development of the land.

She said the economy will not stay down forever, and the infrastructure improvements the town is investing in for the property will make the land more valuable.

Asked about plans for a YMCA facility on the former prison property, the candidate described the scrapping of those plans as “the biggest disappointment.”

She said it was very difficult to raise the money for the project.

“We still have it marked on a map for them,” she said.

She said the hospital also pulled away from putting a clinic in the facility proposed for the site.

If the project never becomes a reality, she said the town will come up with another community access use for that portion of the property.

“I’m proud of the fact that I have my name on a plaque at the waste water treatment plant,” she said. “I’m proud of the fact that as a small community we have 97 percent absolutely new piping, conduits going into the homes in Thomaston. All brand new.” She said the town received funding for the improvements through a grant.

She noted this opened up flats for clammers, and that brings money into the community.

The town also has a downtown facade grant it is working on with Rockland Community Development Director Rodney Lynch, as well as plans to improve the look and use of the back of the downtown business block.

“It’s going to be quite nice when we get it done,” Upham said.

Walmart

On the issue of big box stores and retail development, Upham notes that townspeople voted to allow businesses up to 150,000 square feet in the town.

“We’ve got Lowe’s,” she said. “It’s kind of hard to say ‘well you can’t come because we don’t like the kind of store you are, which is discriminatory.'”

She said Walmart was not originally her first choice, noting she was in favor of a Target or something like that. However, she said she is not against the proposed Walmart.

Upham believes all of the candidates running for selectmen would have the same policies on the big box issue.

“I run into Walmart all the time,” she said. “…I don’t feel that Walmart is a destructive presence. I think that it’s a job opportunity. I think it’s a financial opportunity for Thomaston. So therefore if I had a personal feeling against Walmart, it certainly wouldn’t be to the benefit of the town.”

When asked about Thomaston’s pro-business policies, she said she has been told that every 10 years, the cost of education doubles.

“We’ve got to be able to grow and we have very little land opportunity to do it,” she said.

New town office

Upham said she favors plans for a new town office, likely behind the Watts block.

“I’d like to see Main Street open for business,” she said.

She said the plan is to turn the downstairs portion of Watts Hall into condominium spaces that could be purchased by businesses that would operate and pay taxes on Main Street. That would generate money to start the new town office project. She said the town would also look into getting grants to cover some of the cost.

Upham is married to John Upham. She said she has lived in Thomaston for about 38 years. She graduated from Rockland District High School.

She was co-owner of Wee Barn Antiques in the area, which operated for about 35 years. She also worked for W.T. Grants in Rockland at one point.

Upham previously served as the president of the Thomaston Area Chamber of Commerce before it merged with the Rockland chamber.

Residents will vote on the proposed budget during the annual town meeting 7 p.m., June 15 at the American Legion. The town election will be held 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. June 14 at the American Legion. Absentee ballots are available.