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County Faces: Connie Michaud of Caribou

CARIBOU, Maine — For Caribou residents, Connie Michaud is a welcome and familiar face, having served the city for over 30 years. For Caribou City Clerk Jayne Farrin and many others at the municipal office, she is the “unsung hero” of Caribou City Hall.

Michaud was born in Presque Isle in 1948, where she went through the school system and first attended college with hopes of becoming a practical nurse. After a change of heart, she took on a job with CIT Credit Corporation from 1967 to 1970.

While she enjoyed the job, she noticed some changes within the company often led her to finish all of her daily tasks by noon. Concerned that her position would soon be eliminated, she applied at County Federal Credit Union and was hired by manager Joe Bouchard on the same day.

She continued at the credit union until 1974, when she stopped working until her children began attending school, and then took a two-year course at a vocational school for medical transcription in 1984.

Just before graduating, however, she took on a job at a USF&G (United States Fidelity and Guaranty Company) office in Caribou.

“When I take a job,” Michaud said, “I always say ‘Give it a year.’ It usually ends up being longer because, by that time, you’re used to it. It really wasn’t in the field I studied, but I thought I’d give it a year.”

She said the job paid very well, but she was laid off after the closure of the Caribou office, which inspired her to apply to Cary Medical Center in Caribou.

Michaud also put her name in for a position that opened at the Caribou City Office, and was offered a job just before Cary contacted her about her application.

“The hospital contacted me soon after I started here,” she said. “They wanted to know if I was interested, but I’d already started work here and like I say with every job: ‘Give it a year.’ I’m a firm believer in that.”

The rest was history and, after being hired on April 7, 1986, she never left the city office. On April 8 of this year, Michaud will retire, having given the city not just one, but 32 years.

Her tasks at first involved collecting vehicle excise taxes, and while she is still Caribou’s motor vehicle agent, she also became assistant clerk. For the past year, she has been handling hunting and fishing licenses, as well as dog registration.

Michaud primarily works with the public, and to this day sees some of the same faces from her first year on the job in 1986.

Once she retires, her plans include traveling to visit friends and family, looking into her genealogy, reading, knitting, crocheting and birdwatching.

“I’m looking forward to it,” Michaud said. “I know I’ll miss seeing everyone here. There are some who really make your day, and I’ve really enjoyed working here.”

One of her fondest memories at the city office is of a time when a bat found its way into the building.

“Don’t ask me how it got here,” she said with a laugh.

Michaud emptied a paper recycling box and was able to place it over the bat so it couldn’t fly off. Meanwhile, residents lined up in the office excitedly watched the creature, and a child asked his mother if he could see the bat.

“His mother said he could look at the bat through the box,” she recalled, “and I showed him his little paw and explained that he really wants to go back outside. I put a piece of cardboard under the box so I could carry it out, and his mother said he could come with me. We went outside, set the bat free, and he flew away.”

Years later, the boy’s mother approached Michaud and said her son never forgot about the bat.

“You just never know what’s going to happen here,” she said. “There could be quiet moments, but it’s never dull.”

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