St. John Valley

Turnover of Van Buren department leadership continues

VAN BUREN, Maine — Two town department heads resigned and one new director joined Van Buren’s staff at the council meeting on Aug. 3. 

Presque Isle firefighter and paramedic Kaitlyn Beil will take over the ambulance department directorship, which was vacated by Ben Zetterman last month — deputy town manager Luke Dyer has been filling in on an interim basis since then. 

Meanwhile, Recreation director Tosha Martin and library director Justin Martin will both be stepping down in August. Tosha Martin is pursuing a career in education and Justin Martin is leaving the library for personal and family reasons. 

These changes represent the latest in ongoing turnover of the upper leadership of Van Buren. Since this spring, the town has also filled the Recycling Department directorship as well as the Code Enforcement Officer position. 

“Since I took this job, this position, every time somebody resigned I thought, ‘Oh man, now what’re we going to do?’” Dyer said. “But every single time we added a new person, we’ve added somebody well beyond our expectations.”

Beil has already accepted the job from Dyer and Town Manager Nancy Troeger, and the council signaled its approval with a unanimous vote in favor of the hire on Tuesday night. The managers were thrilled with the hire, Dyer said. 

Beil is a former Van Buren paramedic, and Dyer said that her budget-minded approach to the role would match the needs of a department that has been struggling financially in recent years. For the first time this year, revenues were not enough to fund the ambulance department, and it was added to the town budget to be partially funded through taxes.

“She’s a no-nonsense, minimal talker, business-oriented person,” Troeger said. 

The library and recreation positions will remain open for now while the town decides how to fill them. The Recreation Department and the Library will be the subjects of an upcoming survey of the town’s programs, and Dyer said that he hopes the survey will help determine how they should shape the roles moving forward. 

“I think everybody that has kids knows that the rec department serves kids, but I’m telling you we need to start serving our elderly and adult population through the rec department,” Dyer, who has worked on the survey initiative with the recreation committee, said. “We need to offer programming and things for them as well — it’s not just for kids.”

Councilor Paul Nadeau suggested that the town consider hiring a work-study student from the University of Maine at Presque Isle for the recreation position. 

Town Manger Nancy Troeger — who was the library director before coming into her current role — will fill in at the library part time. Troeger has been rolling back her duties at the town office as she prepares to cede her role to Dyer sometime in the coming years. There is no plan yet for when the transition will take place.

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