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Hutchings ousted from Lincolnville harbormaster position

By Susan Mustapich | Oct 16, 2020
Source: File photo Lincolnville Board of Selectmen removed Mike Hutchings as harbormaster, by not reappointing him to the position.

LINCOLNVILLE — Lincolnville selectmen appointed a new marine harbormaster in September, ending the long tenure of Harbormaster Mike Hutchings.

Appointment of the harbormaster position is an annual occurrence, as the term is one year.

The deputy harbormaster is also an appointed position for a one-year term. Kendall Smith, the former deputy harbormaster, also was not reappointed in September.

Town Administrator David Kinney is the new marine harbormaster and Gary Neville is the new deputy harbormaster, both appointed by the Board of Selectmen Sept. 21. Neville worked for Prock Marine as a project manager for over 30 years and recently retired.

Kinney said that until the time he was appointed marine harbormaster at the meeting, he did not know he was going to be appointed.

Mike Hutchings confirmed Oct. 16 that he did not resign as harbormaster. He said Kinney texted him during the meeting and let him know he [Kinney] had just been appointed harbormaster.

“That’s all I know,” he said. “I have requested information and have not gotten a thing.”

Hutchings has asked Kinney why he was not reappointed. He said Kinney told him he didn’t know.

“I have been harbormaster for 35-40 years, and I don’t call that a good way to treat people. That’s pretty bad.”

He said that contacting him “would be common courtesy to a citizen of the town who has served for that many years.”

Hutchings thinks there will be more information to follow but for now, he is "just sitting here like a whole lot of people in town, wondering what is going on."

Annual appointments are usually made following June town meeting, but were delayed this year. Town meeting was held by paper ballot July 14. The annual appointments of officials who are not elected is required by the town charter.

On July 27, selectmen considered appointments for a number of municipal officials.

Vice Chairman of the Board of Selectmen Keryn Laite stated that before he was ready to make several appointments, he wanted to check in with some of the officials. He listed these positions as harbormaster, deputy harbormaster, inland harbormaster, fire chief, emergency management director and road commissioner. He said selectmen "don't have a lot of interaction with them on a regular basis." He said he had some questions for a few of them.

Kinney pointed out that road commissioner is a three-year term and not up for appointment. Laite responded that he just wanted the road commissioner for a check-in.

Laite made a motion, seconded by Josh Gerritsen, that the board appoint municipal individuals on a list provided to selectmen titled "Town Officials' Appointment"' dated July 20, except for the road commissioner, harbormaster, deputy harbormaster, inland harbormaster, fire chief and emergency management director. Selectmen approved this motion 5-0.

Chairman of the Board of Selectmen Ladleah Dunn said she sees the need for a comprehensive inventory of infrastructure and individuals and a discussion about how the town can more efficiently spend taxpayer dollars to manage and steward its public resources. She included individuals hired, contracted and appointed as well as volunteers who take care of the town’s infrastructure and public access points.

Dunn said changes might include new or different positions in the town or restructuring of committees. She praised volunteers, who are sometimes overwhelmed with the work. She recommended a road trip for selectmen to review the town’s infrastructure and tasked Kinney to organize next steps.

On Aug. 17 and 18, the Board of Selectmen held department head evaluations in meetings not open to the public. These closed-door meetings, or executive sessions, are regulated by state law.

On Aug. 24, appointing municipal officials was once again on the agenda. Gerritsen was not at the meeting and the agenda item was tabled until a full board was present.

On Oct. 16, Kinney said that periodically the board has had performance reviews with department heads and that these are held in executive sessions, and this is not an annual event.

He confirmed that all but the harbormaster and deputy harbormaster were appointed Sept. 21. The one-year appointments are for a full year and all of the positions have year-round responsibilities, but the work is not full-time. The town has only four full-time positions, he said.

When asked if the change in harbormaster and deputy were due to performance issues, Kinney did not respond to the question directly. “Everyone who works or has worked for the town of Lincolnville, I believe, does the job to the best of their abilities.”

The Lincolnville Harbor Committee met in person at the Lincolnville Improvement Association Oct. 15. The meeting was not recorded by Zoom video conferencing or livestreamed on YouTube, as are other meetings. Those in attendance were Nick Heal, chairman, and committee members David Kelley, Shane Leprade, Brian Cronin, Kinney and Neville, the deputy harbormaster. The committee serves in an advisory capacity to the selectmen.

The committee discussed annual duties outlined in the Harbor Ordinance, Article 2, items A-F, Kinney said. Discussion focused on annual review of usage of the town pier and floats, recommendations regarding fees for the coming year and items requiring maintenance currently or in next fiscal year. A committee representative is expected to provide recommendations on these items to selectmen in November.

Another item discussed was fleshing out qualifications for mooring inspectors. On Sept. 28, selectmen gave this as a supplemental charge to the Harbor Committee. The committee also is expected to make recommendations on qualifications for mooring inspectors in November. Kinney said designating mooring inspectors is an annual duty of the harbormaster.

Selectmen either declined to comment for this story or did not respond to questions. Gerritsen asked that Dunn be contacted, and Ray stated that as a new member of the Board of Selectmen, he would defer any questions to longer-tenured selectmen. Dunn and Laite had not yet responded to questions at the time this story was published.

This story will be updated if further information becomes available.

Editor's note: An error misstating the name of the deputy harbormaster not reappointed has been corrected.

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Comments (2)
Posted by: David Schmanska | Oct 18, 2020 09:00

I'm surprised the town's policy manual allows the town administrator to serve in two paid positions. Is Kinney now his own boss? Dave Schmanska



Posted by: Francis Mazzeo, Jr. | Oct 17, 2020 15:20

Cleaning out "the swamp" like the clown in DC did?



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