NEW GLOUCESTER — There’s a new town manager in New Gloucester.
Carrie Castonguay, on the job for about two months now, is enjoying the transition. A Jay resident, she previously served as town manager in Belgrade. Before that, she had been the administrative assistant in the town of Livermore and worked in adult education.
Castonguay, 47, also co-owns a small business that does commercial janitorial work and both residential and commercial steam carpet cleaning.
She spoke with the Lakes Region Weekly about her start in New Gloucester.
Q: It’s almost two months in now, how has it gone so far?
A: Excellent, I was telling a couple people last week that I feel like the luckiest girl in the world because this is such an amazing community, and everybody has been so warm and welcoming. The staff here is just phenomenal. Everybody is so competent and so willing to help. It’s just been a really, really nice transition.
Q: What drew you to New Gloucester?
A: It was just an opportunity to move to a little bigger town.
Q: You’ve come here in the midst of a couple big projects, what has that been like?
A: It’s been a lot of catch-up, playing a lot of catch-up, I should say. Trying to get familiar with the projects, particularly the public works garage, because that is the biggest upcoming issue that we have going, and certainly the road construction project up here.
We’re actually bringing (the garage project) to the selectmen at their meeting on the 17th (of July) for either a yay or nay to take it to the legislative body … the committee has worked really, really hard to get the price down to a level that they think the voters will support.
Q: What is that price tag?
A: $4.3 million. That’s with the contingency. And I know it’s above what the selectmen had wanted, but there’s just nothing else to be eliminated from the project.
Q: Is the hope for it to go before the town voters in November?
A: The committee had talked about doing, actually, a special town meeting. So that’s what we’re going to be proposing.
Q: Is there anything that has stood out in terms of differences between your past jobs and this one?
A: I would say probably the biggest difference is … being in a community with long-term vision. And that’s very nice – that’s overly simplistic, I know … but just to have a capital improvement plan and to have that long-term vision. To have a public works department that has adequate equipment … just to make sure you’re always maintaining that level of equipment, whether it’s fire trucks or even as simple as lawnmowers for the facilities. It’s nice to have a community support those needs, because without those, things get left undone, and that’s not good for the town or the taxpayers.
Q: You’re a small business owner as well. Do you think that factors into your managerial style, not coming from just a strict municipal background?
A: I’m sure it does, because we do have a number of small businesses here in town. So I certainly understand the trials and tribulations of being a small business owner. It can be very taxing at times, literally and figuratively.
Q: How would you describe your leadership style?
A: Actually I’m working on my master’s in leadership through the University of Southern Maine, and part of that degree program is self-exploration. I am a ‘transformative leader’ according to all of that. I can say that I’m sure that’s true because of all my years in education, it’s very gratifying for me to be able to see people grow and improve. That whole process of continuous improvement – it’s very important to me, and hopefully the people we work with.
Q: A lot of the Lakes Region (town) managers have been here a while – some of them decades. Have you had a chance to get to know any of them or pick there brains at all?
A: I attended my first meeting with the managers group. It’s certainly a dynamic group with just an absolute wealth of experience and knowledge, and I’m looking forward to tapping into those resources if I have anything that comes up. Certainly Tony (Plante) in Windham and Dave (Morton) over in Casco, they’ve been around for a very, very long time. I’ve had lunch with Deb Cabana down in Gray a couple times. It’s been great, and they are just incredibly helpful and willing to help.
Matt Junker can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @MattJunker.
Carrie Castonguay has been the town manager in New Gloucester for about 2 months.