Beth Ward steps into leadership position at Ragged Mountain

Camden Snow Bowl Manager resigns; Camden commences new town manager search

Posted:  Friday, January 27, 2017 - 9:45am
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CAMDEN — The Camden Snow Bowl’s general manager, Landon Fake, submitted his resignation to the town late in the afternoon, Jan. 26. Fake confirmed his resignation Jan. 27.

“Yesterday I resigned my position as the Snow Bowl General Manager/Parks and Recreation Department Director, effective in two weeks, during which I'll be taking some much-needed vacation time,” wrote Fake, in a prepared statement. “It has become apparent that I can no longer be effective in my job in the current environment of intensely differing views of the redevelopment and the character of the Snow Bowl's future.
 
“I enjoyed working for Pat Finnigan and with the many passionate staff, the Ski Club and Foundation, and other supporters of the Snow Bowl, but it's time to move on. I wish them all the best.
 
“There is yet work to be done, but the redevelopment project resulted in a gem of a small ski area the Town can be very proud of.”

“I’m sorry to see him go,” said Camden Select Board Chairman John French, on Jan. 27.

The acting Snow Bowl manager is now Beth Ward, who is also acting parks and recreation director, for the town. She has been assistant manager at the Snow Bowl and the parks and recreation department since Fake was hired in 2013.

Fake’s resignation follows the resignation of Camden Town Manager Patricia Finnigan, Jan.18, and the hiring for an independent financial audit of the municipally-owned Snow Bowl finances since 2012, as they relate to the $8.5 million redevelopment of Ragged Mountain. Overcosts of the project, plus scarce snowpack and mechanical issues, helped to drive the Snow Bowl into a $300,000 deficit, which accrued over several years.

The town is contracting with R.H. Smith and Co., of Buxton, to perform the audit, and the Select Board agreed to spend up to $12,000 from its own contingency on the job.

That work is anticipated to end by Feb. 15, according to Acting Town Manager Roberta Smith.

Finnigan hired Fake in Sept. 2013. He had been selected from a pool of approximately 80 candidates, who submitted applications from across the country. The search was especially sensitive since the person selected would succeed Jeff Kuller, who had been Camden’s parks and recreation director for eight years before he died unexpectedly in a timber harvesting accident in November 2012.

“Landon was the unanimous choice of the search committee,” said Finnigan, in 2013. “He has a depth of experience and the leadership skills that are essential at this important time for the Snow Bowl and the community.”

Town Manager search

On Jan. 26, the Select Board members met behind closed doors to discuss a personnel issue, and while there, they also spoke with Maine Municipal Association representative David Barrett, about conducting a manager search.

When the board exited its executive session, Chairman John French said the closed door meeting did pertain to a personnel issue, and that the board did take the opportunity to talk about the pending manager search.

Barrett is director of personnel services and labor relations  at the nonprofit MMA, which offers professional services to municipalities and other local governmental entities in Maine.

He said the Camden Select Board and he talked about “issues facing Camden and priorities” in the meeting, and will embark on a search that begins with advertisements circulated.

The Select Board voted Jan. 26 to contract with MMA for $4,900, plus expenses, to help find a new town manager.

The board is to reconvene to discuss the search as resumes get submitted, which are expected by Feb. 21. The board will start scheduling interviews in early March, with an anticipated offer made to a candidate in April.

French said the board has discussed forming a committee to help review candidates.

“If anybody has any particular qualities they would like to see in a town manger, get in touch with board members,” said board member Leonard Lookner. “We would appreciate that, certainly. We are hiring for the community.”

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Reach Editorial Director Lynda Clancy at lyndaclancy@penbaypilot.com; 207-706-6657